LONDON (AP) — Coca-Cola has contingency plans to adapt its World Cup sponsorship and soften its celebratory tone in Brazil if unrest returns to the streets.
Launching their biggest World Cup marketing campaign, which aims to promote inclusivity, Coke executive vice president Joe Tripodi told The Associated Press the soft drinks giant would react rapidly to any outbreak of protests in an attempt to reflect the mood of the nation.
Demonstrations flashed across the South American country last year at the Confederations Cup, with Brazilians angry at the high level of spending on the World Cup compared with public services. The protests outside some matches, including the Brazil-Spain final, turned violent with tear gas floating into stadiums.
"That (World Cup) spotlight can act as an opportunity to tell a story of happiness but it can also be a spotlight to tell a story of grievances and concerns that they (the public) have about the direction of the country," Tripodi, the Coca-Cola chief marketing and commercial officer, said in a telephone interview.
"There was tear gas and a little of that waved into the stadium, nothing major," Tripodi recalled of his Confederations Cup trip. "The Brazilian people are going to rise up and support this World Cup in a big way. Do I think there might be some protests? There may well be."
A litmus test of Brazil's attitude now to the World Cup could be when the trophy tour, organized by Coke, reaches its 90th country this month and begins a six-week tour across Brazil.
"We hope there is no unrest," Tripodi said from Atlanta. "But we recognize these things happen. You always have to be smart to have all kind of Plan Bs, Plan Cs and Ds to prepare for any contingency. And if certain things happen you might have to change the tonality of your marketing or communications ... to make sure our messaging better reflected the mood in a particular country."
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