NEW YORK - The world's football stars will not be the only ones competing for glory at this year's World Cup in Rio de Janeiro. Coca-Cola will also be running hard.
The US soft-drink giant, facing lower sales in North America, is an official sponsor of the 20th World Cup, considered along with the Olympics as one of the world's top sporting events.
Coca-Cola plans a marketing blitz with commercials featuring football stars and jingles celebrating the football extravaganza. The beverage maker has also sponsored a tour of the FIFA World Cup trophy that will visit 90 countries overall.
"The event is a win-win for Coke," said William Chipps, an analyst at IEG, a leading sponsorship consultancy.
"With an event, especially a global event like the World Cup, that's a very unique platform for global brands. There's only a handful of properties that will allow you to have a global campaign built around it."
Brazil seen as growth market
Along with a massive global audience, Coca-Cola has high hopes that Brazil itself will be a major growth market that will make up for headwinds in its huge US market.
Soft-drink consumption in Brazil remains relatively low on a per-capita basis. So far there has been scant attention paid to concerns about potential health ills from the carbonated soft drinks that have hit US sales.
US states such as California and Illinois have proposed taxes on soda. In Mexico, a major Latin American market, the government recently imposed a tax of one peso per liter on soda to counter the risks of obesity and diabetes from the sugary drinks.
Coca-Cola expects to invest $7.6 billion in Brazil between 2012 and 2016 to build its soda-making and distribution businesses.
The Atlanta, Georgia-based giant holds 27 per cent of the market in non-alcoholic drinks in Brazil, a sector estimated at $43 billion in 2013 and which could grow by six per cent through 2017, according to analysts at Trefis.
Brazil accounted for seven per cent of Coca-Cola's sales by volume last year.