Coca-Cola, Mengniu to support IOC’s digital strategy – Payne  

The joint ‘TOP’ deal between Coca-Cola Company and Mengniu is about “shared ambitions, not sharing costs,” according to Michael Payne, the man who brokered the deal.

Speaking to SportBusiness Sponsorship, the former IOC marketing chief said the deal makes the companies “key partners” in the IOC’s digital strategy and the evolution of the TOP programme.

“This isn’t about cost,” said Payne. “These are two companies making major commitments, including commitments to digital and media investments with the IOC, and dealing with expanded categories, which will make it win-win-win all round.”

Payne said there was already a strong relationship between Coca-Cola and Mengniu, through a Chinese state food and beverage company called Cofco, which is a major shareholder in Mengniu and also the longest-standing bottler of Coca-Cola in China.

The deal emerged from a recognition of common interests.

“Last year, Mengniu took their first step out onto the global sports stage as a sponsor of FIfa. The experience of Fifa was incredibly successful, and after that, they approached me to look at a broader strategic vision for their international ambitions.

“I also maintain a very close relationship with Coca-Cola, and the more we spoke, the more the idea of doing a very innovative, bigger joint TOP came about.

“Coca-Cola is looking at how they’re expanding their beverage company. Mengniu is the leader in the whole dairy space, so there is a lot of a lot of potential areas of common interest.”

Payne said the contact makes clear provision for the sponsorship rights of dairy group rival Yili, which is a local partner of the Beijing 2022 Winter Games.

“When you get into the detail of the [dairy] category, there are clear separations, For example, when you talk about things like drinkable dairy, drinkable yogurt, these are already part of Coca-Cola category and never in the Yili category.

“Legally, there is no conflict whatsoever from the different category structures. That being said, when Mengniu do announce the details of how they’re going to be activating, I’m sure they will also be taking steps to really make sure there is no confusion, because this is not about a short-term play.”

Although the joint deal starts in 2021 – Coca- Cola’s current TOP contract runs to 2020 –  Mengniu will decide in the near future which countries it will activate in and using which products.