Coca-Cola and Special Olympics

The Coca-Cola Co., Atlanta, is creating greater awareness for the Special Olympics World Summer Games Athens 2011 through an integrated marketing campaign.

“We share the values of Special Olympics and the vision of acceptance, inclusion and optimism,” said Muhtar Kent, chairman and chief executive officer of The Coca-Cola Co., in a statement. “One of the best ways we can support Special Olympics is by communicating those positive messages to the millions of people that reach for a Coca-Cola every day.”

Among the numerous marketing efforts Coca-Cola has undertaken to support Special Olympics has been a Facebook campaign in Greece asking fans to share a message of hope with the athletes online to trigger a 1 euro donation for each message. This theme of sharing well-wishes for athletes also is carried through in a TV commercial that features more than 100 Coca-Cola employees and Special Olympics athlete Panayiotis Koutatzis. Additionally, extensive in-store displays throughout Greece drove awareness of Special Olympics and allowed people to place messages in “Coca-Cola Happiness Bottles” which are now on display at competition venues.

During the month of May, Coca-Cola donated a portion of the sales of every Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola Light and Coke Zero in Greece to support Special Olympic athletes. These, and other Coca-Cola fundraising activities, generated 500,000 euros. In a brief ceremony at a Special Olympics venue at the Athens Olympic Stadium (OAKA) on Sunday, Kent presented the funds to the World Games Organizing Committee.

“On behalf of the entire Special Olympics family, I thank Coca-Cola for being a leader in creating opportunities of joy for our athletes and their families,” said Timothy Shriver chairman and chief executive officer of Special Olympics, in a statement. “Since our founding in 1968, Coca-Cola has been a dedicated partner in helping us build communities of acceptance for athletes.”

Coca-Cola Greece expects to serve approximately 2 million servings to refresh the 7,000 athletes and the tens of thousands of family, friends, volunteers and fans attending the Special Olympics in Athens.

Among the athletes participating in the World Games this year is Andrés Delgado, 27, a Coca-Cola employee who is the mail coordinator at the company’s offices in Caracas, Venezuela. In 2003, he represented Venezuela at the Ireland Special Olympic Games, and won two bronze medals in weight lifting. For the Athens World Summer Games, Delgado is competing in artistic gymnastics.

“My husband and I are proud to see our son participate in the Special Olympics again,” said Andrés’ mother, Olga Delgado, in a statement. “But this time it is special given everything Coca-Cola has done to support him. This means a lot to us and we are grateful to Coca-Cola for considering Andrés as a fully integrated part of the team.”