In the rings: Coke cans happiness at Games

The mega-brand's Olympic pavilion is a Coke-lover's wonderland, with free bevvies, polar bear swims and environmental sustainability messaging cleverly disguised as fun.

If you’re a fan of Coca-Cola, there’s no better place to be in Canada than at the Olympic Games in Vancouver.

Coca-Cola has a long-standing partnership with the IOC, and its brand image is everywhere at the Vancouver Games. Beside the traditional media that is supporting its Olympic push, Games-specific OOH includes branded recycling bins and sustainability messaging on tables, beverage stands and other service-oriented collateral, and a giant billboard at Hastings and Vernon shaped like a maple leaf, on which ‘real’ medals are hung each time they are won by Canada.

The Coca-Cola Pavilion at David Lam Park in Yaletown, Vancouver and developed by activation agency Ignition/Inventa, is the embodiment of the ‘Open Happiness’ campaign, bringing both it and the brand’s sustainability efforts to life. Resembling a Coke can fit for a giant, the venue delivers a true (and quite literal) 360 brand experience to visitors. Spectacularly sunny and about 10 degrees outside, the pavilion was packed at noon yesterday, filled with people of all ages drawn to what must be the most colourful structure for miles.

The goal was to raise aware of Coke’s environmental efforts and healthy-living messaging in a fun, interactive way, Scott Tabachnick, corporate communications manager, Coca-Cola Canada, explained to MiC during a tour. As far as MiC could see, it seemed to be working, as hundreds of kids ran around the venue playing recycling videogames with an enthusiasm usually reserved for Halo or Wii boxing.

Upon entering, visitors first navigate the brand’s history with the Olympic Games in a small-sized room filled with Coke-branded Games memorabilia (including some seriously sparkly Calgary Coke uniforms) and a gallery of Olympic torches from previous relays Coke has supported. Then, they’re unleashed into Coke World.

First stop is a free Coca-Cola Classic or Coke Zero. Fully recyclable aluminum bottle in hand, visitors then travel from station to station, swimming with polar bears in an four-player interactive game (complete with bear paw-gloves), posing with a torch or very real-looking polar bear mascot for photos, playing a large-screen, recycling-is-fun videogame or, best of all, sending their empty Coke bottles up a pneumatic tube that would make Willy Wonka jealous.

During all of this, a giant glowing Coke bottle beams like a beacon in the middle of the venue and overhead, Coke video clips and Consortium footage roll across the entire ceiling – imaging that can be seen at night from the outside as well.

Brand spokesperson Amy Laski says that, after all that planning, the excitement people show when they enter the venue is satisfying.

‘Our fans expect nothing but the best, and we had to deliver,’ she said. ‘You see people reacting when they go into the larger room and see the interactive elements, and then we give them a Coke that has been stored at the perfect temperature of four degrees, and that immediately provides them with a moment of happiness. What we’re doing and what they’re seeing translates through to the whole brand.’

TV and video creative for the Olympics campaign was handled by MacLaren McCann; B Street handed the consumer-facing contest promotions on-pack, in-store and online; Henderson Bas was responsible for the digital campaign; Cossette handled the media.