Coca-Cola Co. has struck a partnership with soccer superstar Pele in Brazil for the World Cup 2002. The deal goes some way to compensate for the recent loss of Coke's sponsorship of the Brazilian soccer team to its local rival Antarctica's guarana drink for next year's championships.
The two-year partnership is worth an estimated $100 million and will include ad campaigns starring Pele. The sporting hero will also act as a consultant and ambassador for the soft drink giant in the run up to the World Cup.
The campaign will kick off in February 2002 with a moving exhibition of Pele's life and career, as well as more general information on the history of Brazil's leading past-time: soccer. Several social and educational programs revolving around Pele are also planned.
Commenting on his involvement, Pele says: "I only take part in things I believe in. I believe I'll be (transmitting) positive messages to the public."
It's not Pele's first link with a high-profile marketer. Early this year, Latin American sports channel Pan American Sports Network (PSN) took on the soccer hero to appear on PSN shows and participate in marketing and community programs. During the course of qualifying matches this year, Pele has had his own commentary show on PSN.
Pele also served as a "Made In Brazil" symbol in a 1999 campaign launched by Brazil's National Industry Confederation.
Coke's association with soccer goes back to decades, having been the official sponsor of the World Cup since 1974. In Brazil, the company has also sponsored several local soccer competitions uniting 8,000 young players from more than 400 schools nationwide.