In EA’s latest “FIFA 18” football game Coca-Cola will be promoted through the fictional soccer star Alex Hunter, marking the first attempt at creating a character and attaching a brand and a narrative to them within a blockbuster game.
Players can play as Hunter, who, after rising to fame as a member of the LA Galaxy team, signs a deal with Coca-Cola and shoots a commercial in one of the scenes of the game.
The initiative is the latest part of Coca-Cola’s 20-year partnership with EA and was created in collaboration with Anomaly, Mercado McCann and Havas.
“For us, this reinvents brand content and how we approach advertising,” said Alban Dechelotte, senior entertainment marketing manager for Coca-Cola Co. “This is a whole new world.”
For Coca-Cola, it’s all about engaging fans across multiple dimensions. “It gives another way consumers can appreciate the brand,” said Matt Wolf, vp of entertainment, ventures and strategic alliances at Coca-Cola Co. “We think it’s a natural evolution of where content is going.”
Coca-Cola and EA are using their virtual sponsor in every way they would a real celebrity in an effort to “try to blur lines” between reality and the virtual world, said Dechelotte.
To promote the in-game story, Coca-Cola has created a spot from the scene where Hunter stars in a Coke commercial.
Coca-Cola is also distributing limited-edition custom cans with the digitalized Hunter at 7-Elevens and Walmarts in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Under the tab of each can of these Cokes is a code that consumers can then enter in the FIFA game to download exclusive content that can help them along “The Journey.”
In June, EA even created a Twitter account for the character (@MrAlexHunter), which already has 49,900 followers. On Monday, Cola-Cola had the character account tease a still from the game.
Could get used to that seat… excited to show you all something I’ve been working on! 🔜🎥 pic.twitter.com/mj8urNq27q
— Alex Hunter (@MrAlexHunter) September 18, 2017
While advertisers have been experimenting with digitally resurrecting culture icons to punt product for many a decade, this marks the first meaningful attempt at creating a character and attaching a brand and a narrative to them – a risky move in the difficult to crack video games market.
Coca-Cola supports a many sports and lifestyle influencers, however, it seems to be experimenting with a new approach, whereupon it holds all the cards without the threat of any gaffes that can often sully a commercial partnership.