Growing up in Philly in the 70s and 80s, I have to admit I was not exactly the biggest soccer, er futbol fan in the world. Sure I knew who Pele was and even knew of other stars such as Giorgio Chinaglia and Franz Beckenbauer. But that was about it. I did not play the game but surely had, and still do have a respect for it and its players.

Yesterday of course was the opening day of the 2014 Fifa World Cup™ in Brazil.

One thing I was very interested in seeing was the unveiling of the Coca-Cola Happiness Flag — a football stadium-sized, crowd-sourced mosaic flag created from photos and tweets submitted by fans from around the world. The flag included over 220,000 photos from all of the 207 global markets where Coca-Cola products are sold.

The flag did not disappoint… not by a long shot.

The Backstory

A project of this size surely requires much coordination and a lot of help to meet the challenges that accompany  such a large undertaking. Some of the help Coca-Cola received came via CI&T, a technology outsource provider.

Bruno Guicardi, co-founder and President North America of CI&T said global reach was the biggest challenge. “The mission was to create a crowdsourced symbol blending creativity and technology to unite the world,” he said. “It needed to be innovative and engaging at a global level, but at the same time simple and flexible enough for marketing teams around the world to be able to roll out the campaign in their local markets.”

To meet the challenge and be successful, Guicardi said the key was to provide a rich and powerful rollout kit. “A number of “ingestion channels” were created to collect images for the mosaic, including creating an automatic “two-way conversation” integration for social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram), email and APIs.”

The design for the flag came from a collaboration between Coca-Cola and Brazilian street artist Speto and Argentinian arist Tec. Upon completion and the painting was put on canvas, it was digitized then delivered to Robert Silvers, CEO of Runway Technology and the inventor of Photomosaic technology.

All of whom are featured in this behind the scenes video of the making of the flag.

The Backstory & More

Those who know me know I am always one prone to big deeper, to try and find out more about a given story. Well sit back and get ready for more.

I had to chance to speak with Neil Bedwell, Director, Global Digital Strategy & Content, The Coca-Cola Company about this particular campaign and few more “global” topics, if you will.

Steve Olenski: How did this project come about?

Neil Bedwell: When we began work on our campaign for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, we got really excited about this concept of ‘The World’s Cup’. The ‘s is the most important part – the idea that wherever you live, whoever you support, you’re invited to celebrate the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil with Coca-Cola. ‘The World’s Cup’ celebrates the inclusive spirit shared by Coca-Cola, football and the tournament’s host country, Brazil. We knew we couldn’t make a claim like ‘The World’s Cup’ without proving it. The Happiness Flag – the world’s largest digitally produced Photomosaic, measuring 3,015 square meters laid out over the pitch in Sao Paolo before the opening game of the FIFA World Cup combined with a multi-platform digital approach to submission makes for a compelling proof point for ‘The World’s Cup’.

The Happiness Flag was an ambition – a physical flag that invites the world to the pitch in Brazil. Through Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, we were able to leverage technology to reach our consumers and gain participation. In total, we’ve collected over 200,000 photos from 207 countries arranged into a design created in collaboration with Brazilian street-artist Speto, who is also behind the visual identity for our 2014 FIFA World Cup campaign, that will be displayed on the pitch at Arena de Sao Paulo ahead of the opening match on June 12th. Over 65,000 fans at the Arena de Sao Paulo and an estimated global audience of over one billion people will see the Happiness Flag, showing the world the power of football to bring people from different backgrounds and beliefs together.

Olenski: Why is the World Cup such a good match for Coca-Cola in terms of a branding partnership?

Bedwell: The Coca-Cola Company has had a long-standing relationship with FIFA since 1974 and has been an official sponsor of the FIFA World Cup™ since 1978.  Coca-Cola has had stadium advertising at every FIFA World Cup™ since 1950 and is a long-time supporter of football at all levels. The FIFA World Cup is a platform that unites people all over the world, inspiring and celebrating the world’s most popular sport while creating memorable experiences for athletes and fans.

OlenskiWhat’s the underlying message the Coca-Cola brand is trying to deliver via this campaign?

Bedwell: Everyone joins together to celebrate the 2014 FIFA World Cup™. Through ‘The World’s Cup’ campaign, we are creating unrivalled access, participation, empowerment and conversation with the goal of delivering the most accessible and inclusive FIFA World Cup™ ever. We have a strong legacy in moments of togetherness and happiness. You can trace this back through our work in the ‘60’s and 70’s – with “Hilltop” – teaching the world to sing in perfect harmony. Focusing on social inclusion.

Football is truly the world’s sport, loved and played by billions. It is the same game wherever it is played and in that it has the power to unite. We feel the same about Coca-Cola. The combination of Football and Coca-Cola, and the famous Brazilian passion and positivity, gives a unique and powerful opportunity to say “What unites us is greater than what divides us”. which ultimately led us to recognize this year’s tournament in Brazil as ‘The World’s Cup’.

Olenski: How will this campaign be measured?

Bedwell: Speaking as a content marketer – to be true to The World’s Cup’ vision, we want to reach as many people as possible in as many countries as possible. For the Happiness Flag, our goal was to feature at least one person from every one of the 207 countries where Coca-Cola does business. We succeeded. For the Trophy Tour it was letting 1 million fans see the FIFA World Cup Trophy. We succeeded. Across the broader campaign, we measure impact. How many people see and share our story across all platforms and how positive they feel about it. We have a rigorous set of data points that the expert analysts in our Hub Network (Social Listening and Analytics platform) are tracking to keep us on course.

Olenski: What’s the one piece of advice you can give to brands, large or small, who want to engage with its fans?

Bedwell: Be authentic. In almost all cases, your brand is entering a conversation your fans and consumers are already having. In order to be welcomed and invited to stick around you must be a positive contributor. That means listening before you speak so you are relevant; remembering you have two ears and one mouth for a reason so you speak only at the right time; then when you do, have interesting things to say that are true to who you are, so people want to hear/see/experience your brand.

Deconstruct this simple approach and it should make you think about every aspect of your marketing function. People, structure, processes, technology.

Source: Forbes