Coca-Cola, NBA expand global marketing partnership

MUMBAI: The National Basketball Association (NBA) and beverage conglomerate Coca-Cola have announced a new multi-year extension of their longstanding global marketing partnership.

The continuing association will showcase Sprite through exclusive programmes designed to connect with the league’s young and passionate fan-base on a global basis.

Coca-Cola, an NBA marketing partner since 1986, has used the partnership to promote several different brands in its diverse beverage portfolio.

In 2011, for the first time Sprite will be the lead brand to be associated with the NBA around the world. Sprite, the world’s leading lemon-lime sparkling beverage, has been the Official Soft Drink of the NBA in the US since 1994.
In the US, Sprite will continue to engage fans through special programmes highlighting the slam dunk, including Sprite Slam Dunk at NBA All-Star and the Sprite Slam Dunk Showdown amateur slam dunk competition. Sprite also will conduct a variety of NBA-themed activities, including events, digital promotions, grassroots programmes and under-the-cap promotions to connect with NBA fans worldwide.

Coca-Cola US CMO Beatriz Perez said, "Our partnership with the NBA offers the flexibility and collaboration to create innovative marketing programs that spark the connection between Sprite and basketball fans. "Through programs like Sprite Slam Dunk, Sprite Slam Dunk Showdown and others, we’re able to communicate with people online, on television, through mobile technology, locally and at retail, so that we’re in touch with NBA fans wherever they are."
NBA executive VP, global marketing partnerships Mark Tatum said, "For more than two decades, The Coca-Cola Company has been one of the NBA’s most committed and active marketing partners. Sprite is an exciting and vibrant brand that maintains a meaningful connection to the younger consumers that also make up a valuable segment of our fan-base. We look forward to working together to develop more exciting and innovative NBA experiences that will resonate with this audience around the world."

Sprite will continue as the title partner of the highly anticipated annual Sprite Slam Dunk competition at NBA All-Star, which it has supported since 2003. Recently, Sprite and the NBA have collaborated to offer new elements that allow fans to participate in the event. Since 2008, fans have been able to vote for their favorite dunker, and in 2009 and 2010, fans were able to help choose one of the event participants .
Sprite also will continue to present the Sprite Slam Dunk Showdown. Inspired by the NBA All-Star event, this slam dunk competition determines the best amateur dunker in North America via a grassroots tour and online fan-participation component. The second edition of the Sprite Slam Dunk Showdown is currently underway, and the four finalists will compete for the contest title and $10,000 grand prize at NBA All-Star 2011 in Los Angeles .

Fans in the US will be able to experience both the Sprite Slam Dunk and the Sprite Slam Dunk Showdown at, a dedicated website that offers unique content for both the NBA and amateur Slam Dunk competitions.

Sprite will continue to highlight its NBA partnership through its global integrated marketing campaign, The Spark , which conveys the lemon-lime sparkling beverage’s ability to refresh and invigorate.

Throughout the partnership, Sprite and the NBA will collaborate in various international markets to reach NBA fans with a variety of NBA-themed events and promotions.

Advertising will appear during international telecasts of NBA games and programming in 215 countries and territories in 42 languages. In addition, Sprite will join the NBA for a series of grassroots programmes that encourage kids to play basketball in Mexico , and Africa , among others.

Coca-Cola VP Global Partnerships and Experiential Marketing Scott McCune said, "The passion for the NBA continues to grow around the world and through our global partnership we are able to create marketing programs in multiple countries such as China , where our brands and NBA basketball are both incredibly popular. We are able to create grassroots programmes in markets around the world to encourage young people to play basketball and drink Sprite. For the first time our two biggest markets for the Sprite brand, the U.S. and China , will both be activating our NBA partnership with the same brand giving us greater scale."

Prior to extending its NBA relationship, The Coca-Cola Company reached a new multi-year marketing partnership with the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) that began with the 2010 WNBA season. The partnership supported Live Positively, Coca-Cola’s effort to make a positive difference in the world. WNBA FIT Clinics were held at community parks across the US to engage youth through a variety of fitness skills and drills while stressing the importance of health and nutrition. The Coca-Cola Company also served as a Gold partner of the Inspiring Women Luncheon, an annual event that includes prominent attendees from the worlds of entertainment, sports, business, and politics.

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