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World Cup Winner: Coca-Cola for Sonic Branding

Posted by Sheila Shayon on July 12, 2010 11:00 AM

Spain emerged victorious on the 2010 World Cup field, but the winner in branded music is Coca-Cola's World Cup anthem. K'Naan's Wavin’ Flag has achieved #1 status around the world and is poised to live on as a catchy earworm that proves the power of sonic branding. Find out more about Coca-Cola's campaign after the jump.

Coca-Cola took a risk by choosing a tune by a relatively unknown artist -- K'Naan, who was born in Somalia and grew up in Canada -- as its official song and crown jewel of its $300 million 2010 FIFA campaign. The rerecorded version, "Coca-Cola Celebration Mix," also came in over 20 regional flavors via duets (including Spanish, French, Chinese, Thai, and Arabic) recorded with local musicians. The U.S. remix features David Guetta and Will.i.am.

According to soundlounge CEO Ruth Simmons, “Coke has used a technique we call audio watermarking. This is a popular and well-known trick that has been around for centuries and used by composers and producers to weave a sound/motif into a piece of music ... watermarking acts like an ‘earworm’, which gets inside our brains and becomes so compulsive that we go around humming it as we walk down the street and not understanding why. We effectively become living, walking, singing commercials for Coke.”

As for Coca-Cola, Emmanuel Seuge, its group director of worldwide sports and entertainment marketing, told Billboard: "We wanted a song that embodied our campaign. It needed to be upbeat, it needed to be uplifting, it needed to be an invitation for people to celebrate.”

"By sneaking the Coke melody into an otherwise musically unbranded song," notes Simmons, "they’ve seen incredible success in the charts. In our opinion, it’s a much more intelligent form of branding than paying artists to name-drop brands in their lyrics."

Indeed, Coca-Cola's announcement wrapping up its 2010 World Cup campign notes that the anthem reached number one on music charts in 17 countries and generated more than 800,000 download purchases. The video versions of the single amassed more than 87 million views on YouTube in addition to being the centerpiece of Coca-Cola's World Cup trophy tour.

Coke's CMO Joe Tripodi commented, “Our largest ever integrated marketing program has set a new standard for our sponsorship of global events. Our FIFA partnership has been a cornerstone of our marketing efforts in 2010 and has been effective in reaching millions of consumers around the world.”

K’Naan added, "I saw it as an opportunity to reach more people. I don't work for Coke or anything; what I do is my music. This was a really great opportunity for them to use my song, without compromising my integrity as a musician. This is what I write, these are the songs I make. I'm happy about it."

The singer also wrote in Vanity Fair, "It has been sung in over 20 languages and has raised more than a million dollars to benefit Haiti. Born to humility, at first it was written off as an outcast; the story of this song’s unexpected success is as farfetched as a Bollywood theme."

Last World Cup team standing: Spain. Last World Cup brand still standing as the other advertising fades away: Coke? Let us know if you agree with a comment below!

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Erin Canada says:

I'm only a little bit torn about this, because Wavin' Flag really made its debut at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics and it felt so home-grown. It sounds far more commercial now, but the use of additional languages is a beautiful enhancement. I'd like to hear the 'watermark' isolated to know what it contributes.

July 12, 2010 11:24 AM #

S. Shayon says:

Good comment - thank you. I imagine soundlounge could provide the isolated 'watermark.'
S Shayon

July 12, 2010 01:01 PM #

Shirley Brady, Editor, Brandchannel United States says:

In soundlounge's video above it's explained ((:27 mark) -- Coca-Cola added the catchy "oh-oh-oh-oh-oh" chorus, which mimics its audio signature, to K'Naan's original song, which you can hear here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zpX1rPCCUig

It's certainly subtle -- and even subliminal. I didn't notice it until soundlounge pointed it out!

July 12, 2010 02:42 PM #

clara chinwe okoro says:

Really Cool, loved the video, watched it a couple of times while in Cannes France, not surprised it did so well, the melody is catchy.

July 12, 2010 01:17 PM #

Francesca Baker United Kingdom says:

A music fan, music journalist, and FMCG brand consultant, I'm torn between believing this to be a horrible penetration of the beauty and creativity of music, and an act of absolute genius. The song will forever be Coca Cola. I guess really it's a continuation of the merging of business and pleasure, music and marketing.

July 13, 2010 04:28 AM #

Graham Bishop United Kingdom says:

A campaign of genius indeed.
Should we expect a revised "Sounds of Coke" campaign  incorperating this as a 5th brand signiture?
Sounds of Coke was itself  a thing of genius and demonstrated that Coke truely gets multiple sensory branding.
Arguably they have the No 1 visual and sound signatures on the planet.

July 13, 2010 08:08 AM #

Kris United States says:

I felt the budwieser bud house song was excellent. Of course it was on ESPN every commercial break, but I paid attention because the chorus we excellent, which I can't actually find online broken out. the La La La La part was more featured in the commercial.

course I visited the site, and i stayed for about 10 seconds of one of their videos, its was reality TV garbage.

July 13, 2010 09:36 AM #

John Groves Germany says:

We were taught that Coca Cola is it, to have coke and a smile...
And then they got lost.
But now the brand that taught the world to sing is back in form.
The catchy earworm, the consistant use.
Coke is back and proving that music moves the message..
Others should listen and learn - great stuff!!

John Groves

July 13, 2010 08:24 PM #

مقالات تقنية Albania says:

I love that thing.

July 15, 2010 11:33 AM #

shankar India says:

great thinks

July 18, 2010 03:24 AM #

Yahia United Kingdom says:

How many people actually thought of Coca Cola when listening to the song? The only reason you guys will now think of it was because of reading this article.

July 18, 2010 05:32 PM #

Comments are closed

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