Coca-Cola Hosts a Final Four Food and Music Festival
In year four of an 11-year deal with the NCAA, Coca-Cola wanted to turn up the dial on its fan connections through college sports, focusing on the property’s crown jewel, the men’s basketball tournament’s Final Four.
With the semifinal games on Saturday night and the national championship on Monday, Coke zeroed in on Sunday, serving up a seven-hour food-and-music festival that was free and open to residents of Indianapolis, the Final Four host city. My Coke Fest turned downtown Indianapolis’ Monument Circle into the festival grounds, with a 60-foot stage, banners, archways, building wraps and more. (Messaging touted the brand’s then-new “Coke Side of Life” advertising.)
The concert featured Carrie Underwood, Collective Soul, The Wreckers featuring Michelle Branch and Jessica Harp, and Chris Brown with a special guest appearance by Nick Lachey (bonus points if you can find Nick’s other appearance in our Ex Awards coverage), and, to close it out, a performance by Indiana’s favorite rockin’ son, John Mellencamp.
Stilt walkers, face painters and jugglers entertained concertgoers, while Coke Float stations kept them properly hydrated and, we’re guessing, caffeinated. Roving teams of brand reps encouraged consumers to sign up for the My Coke Rewards online loyalty program. The event also served as a hospitality destination for Coke VIPs, with one side of the stage converted into a modern soda fountain featuring upscale furnishings with Coke logos etched into sleek glass tables, and a new-product tasting opportunity, to the tune of 40,000 samples.
The exclusive afterparty, at a nearby nightspot, led guests into an underground martini bar with a speakeasy atmosphere and music from the performers who had played earlier in the day. Lachey appeared in ads for Axe Clix (see pg. 60).