Mark Osikoya- Head of Sponsorship, Coca-Cola GB Share PDF Print E-mail
Profile of the week

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Mark joined Coca-Cola Great Britain (CCGB) in September 2008 with responsibility for the company’s sponsorship strategy and portfolio across all brands. This role covered Coca-Cola’s sponsorship of The Football League and Wayne Rooney as well as Powerade’s partnerships with the English and Welsh Rugby Unions and the Great Run series of events. At a global level, Coca-Cola is also a partner of The FIFA World Cup and the UEFA European Championship.

With the onset of the London 2012 Olympic Games, Mark moved on to a role focused solely on Coca-Cola’s sponsorship portfolio around the event, covering LOCOG, athletes, Team GB, Paralympics GB and Street Games.
Before joining Coca-Cola, Mark worked as a Sports Marketing Manager at Adidas UK and then seven years working as Head of Sponsorship at The Football Association in England, before, most recently, being part of the Client Services Team at the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (London 2012).
Having studied politics at Nottingham University, how did you get into a career of sponsorship in the sports industry?
I didn’t really know what I really wanted to do afterwards. I did a graduate training scheme with Allied Domecq, where I spent a lot of time in each different area. I decided marketing was for me and then in my first marketing job, I got a taste for sponsorship. Because I’ve always played sport and am very much into sport, I moved into sport sponsorship quite quickly. I never really intended that to be the route. It was just through experience and the fact it was working on something that you’re passionate about.
During your stint at Adidas, how difficult was it not to alienate people who supported other teams, and how conscious of this were you?
When you get into that side of sponsorship you’ve got to accept that you can’t please everyone. I think the way you’ve got to approach it is you’ve got to focus on getting into the mindset of the people you are appealing to and focusing your message on them. There are ways you can focus the messaging much more towards the group you are concentrating on as opposed to those that you’re not. You’re going to have people who support one person or one team and you’re going to have people that don’t support them. I think you get into sport from a sponsorship point of view because of the passion of the fans and it’s the passion of the fans that support the team that you’re sponsoring that you focus on. It’s about focusing on the positives rather than negatives.
A popular debate on iSportconnect at the moment surrounds the sponsorship of Liverpool. Why do you believe Warrior Sports chose a team not living up to expectations on the pitch as way of entering the UK soccer market?
I think it’s positive to be honest because more money is coming into the sponsorship industry. Whilst Liverpool might not be doing on the pitch over here currently, they have got a massive global fan base and there’s a great opportunity to talk to people over in Asia, for example. Plus, it must be the link between Fenway, New Balance and Boston. Also it’s about which brands are going to become available and where the opportunity lies. If you look at Arsenal and Manchester United, they’re not going to become available for a long time and Tottenham recently done a deal with Under Armour.
What is the difference between working for a corporation such as Coca-cola and a governing body such as the Football Association?
From an F.A point of view, a lot of the time you have to be in sales mode, so you’ve got a property that you’re going out to sell and you are actively pitching that property to prospective sponsors. When you are not in sales mode, you are in client-servicing mode and you are making sure that sponsors that you’ve got get the most out of sponsorship deals that are in place.
You’re also working towards a definitive cycle so there was always a definitive three/four year sponsorship cycle. At Coca-Cola things are a bit more fast-moving, those cycles maybe aren’t three or four years, they’re much more annual because that’s when the brands plan there activity. Things change a lot quicker and you’re reacting a lot more to the external environment than you would at a governing body.
Has working in the drinks industry changed your view of the sports sector in any way?
It’s the first time that I’ve worked on properties that are truly global like the World Cup and the Olympics. Previously, my experiences have been much more based around the United Kingdom and Europe, so it has changed my perspective in terms of there are very few properties that you can talk about being global. Luckily at Coke, we sponsor most of them. It’s really a positive thing to work on something you know is going to be activated in hundreds of markets across the world.
What is it about the Olympics that attract Coca-Cola as a sponsor?
I think it’s the ability to talk at a global level, but also localising the partnership as well. The Olympics are a property that appeals to everyone broadly, but on a local level you can make that message relevant to a particular local market, so through our Olympic sponsorship we also get sponsorship of the national Olympic committees and the teams as well. So whilst the Olympics might not be held in your market, every nation has a team that’s competing, so there’s a relevant interest.
Do you use the Olympics just for the Coca-Cola brand or for multi-brands?
This year, just in the UK, we’ll be talking about the Olympics through Coca-Cola, Powerade, Glaceau Vitamin Water, but also we’ll have the Olympics on packs of Schweppes Abbey Well and Innocent.
What does Coca-Cola try to achieve with the sponsorship?
The long-term goal is that we are looking, through our sponsorship, for people to see the brand more positively. There are key target markets within that. A lot of communication around Coca-Cola appeals to young adults and teenagers so we talk to them through music and the Olympics, but we’re also talking to mums through some of our communications. Overall, I think it’s a more positive outlook on the brand.
What is your role and what are you expected to deliver?
Well we’ve got a quite big Olympic team here, so a lot of people are quite function-specific. We have people that are working specifically on the torch relay, specifically on hospitality and specifically on operations at the venues delivering the product. My role is much more across all of them. In particular, I am managing all our athlete sponsorships, such as Jessica Ennis and Richard Whitehead, in this country. I also look after the relationship with LOCOG in terms of our sponsorship. They have a client servicing team and I’m their point of contact.
Are you responsible for the whole of Coca-Cola's Olympics programme or is there a big part that is driven by Head Office in Atlanta?
The sponsorship relationship with the IOC sits with Atlanta, whereas our responsibility really is to make sure the games in London are the best ever games Coca-Cola has been involved with. It’s a local activation we are responsible for and the relationship with the local organising committee.
What are the main marketing campaigns and activations to look out for in terms of Coca Cola’s Olympic sponsorship?
This year the big campaign is called ‘Move to the beat’, which is a campaign on the Olympics fusing music and sport featuring Mark Ronson and Katy B. It’s basically looking at getting teens and young adults engaged in the games through music. It’s Mark Ronson putting a track with Katy B, but the twist is that there are six Olympic hopefuls who are using the sounds of their sport in the track. It’s quite a clever collaboration. That’s probably the big one to look out for.
There’s going to be a huge campaign around Powerade as well, which will focus primarily around promotion to win and we will give consumers the opportunity to get their hands on the Olympic sports bottle.
Glaceau Vitamin Water, which is our other sort of main Olympic focus brand have got a big collaboration with Jessie J. We launched that towards the end of last year, but this year you’ll be seeing a lot with Glaceau, Jessie J and the Olympics.
What will you do when the 2012 Olympics is over?
I think there’s a week or two week gap and then we’re straight into the Paralympics after that. After that, there’s quite a big part of our process that is about capturing the learning we’ve done from London and passing it on to our colleagues in Rio and in Sochi. We have a review process within Coke where the local team sit down, gather all their learning and share them with their colleagues. After that, good question. I don’t know! I’m open to offers!
Do you have a favourite Olympic memory?
I’ve probably got two. I’ll always remember Daley Thompson winning just because it’s quite iconic. The other thing is, this shows my age, the Great Britain hockey team winning in Seoul because the top-scorer was a guy called Sean Kerly and he went to the same school that I did in Kent.
Are there any events that you are looking forward to?
I’m not sure which events I’m going to be lucky enough to get to. From a sponsorship point of view, we’ve obviously had a relationship with Jessica Ennis for the last couple of years so I’d really like to go to some of the heptathlon events that she’s competing in. Apart from that, I think any event on the Olympic Park. I’m really looking forward to going to one of the new venues to be honest.
What do you make of the iSportconnect concept?
I do really like the concept. It’s one of the things I need to spend more time on this year. The concept of having a community of people who work in sport and can share ideas and can network is a really good thing.

Mark joined Coca-Cola Great Britain (CCGB) in September 2008 with responsibility for the company’s sponsorship strategy and portfolio across all brands. This role covered Coca-Cola’s sponsorship of The Football League and Wayne Rooney as well as Powerade’s partnerships with the English and Welsh Rugby Unions and the Great Run series of events. At a global level, Coca-Cola is also a partner of The FIFA World Cup and the UEFA European Championship. With the onset of the London 2012 Olympic Games, Mark moved on to a role focused solely on Coca-Cola’s sponsorship portfolio around the event, covering LOCOG, athletes, Team GB, Paralympics GB and Street Games.

Before joining Coca-Cola, Mark worked as a Sports Marketing Manager at Adidas UK and then seven years working as Head of Sponsorship at The Football Association in England, before, most recently, being part of the Client Services Team at the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (London 2012). 

By Edward Rangsi


Having studied politics at Nottingham University, how did you get into a career of sponsorship in the sports industry? 

I didn’t really know what I really wanted to do afterwards. I did a graduate training scheme with Allied Domecq, where I spent a lot of time in each different area. I decided marketing was for me and then in my first marketing job, I got a taste for sponsorship. Because I’ve always played sport and am very much into sport, I moved into sport sponsorship quite quickly. I never really intended that to be the route. It was just through experience and the fact it was working on something that you’re passionate about.

 

During your stint at Adidas, how difficult was it not to alienate people who supported other teams, and how conscious of this were you?

When you get into that side of sponsorship you’ve got to accept that you can’t please everyone. I think the way you’ve got to approach it is you’ve got to focus on getting into the mindset of the people you are appealing to and focusing your message on them. There are ways you can focus the messaging much more towards the group you are concentrating on as opposed to those that you’re not. You’re going to have people who support one person or one team and you’re going to have people that don’t support them. I think you get into sport from a sponsorship point of view because of the passion of the fans and it’s the passion of the fans that support the team that you’re sponsoring that you focus on. It’s about focusing on the positives rather than negatives. 

 

A popular debate on iSportconnect at the moment surrounds the sponsorship of Liverpool. Why do you believe Warrior Sports chose a team not living up to expectations on the pitch as way of entering the UK soccer market? 

I think it’s positive to be honest because more money is coming into the sponsorship industry. Whilst Liverpool might not be doing on the pitch over here currently, they have got a massive global fan base and there’s a great opportunity to talk to people over in Asia, for example. Plus, it must be the link between Fenway, New Balance and Boston. Also it’s about which brands are going to become available and where the opportunity lies. If you look at Arsenal and Manchester United, they’re not going to become available for a long time and Tottenham recently done a deal with Under Armour. 


What is the difference between working for a corporation such as Coca-cola and a governing body such as the Football Association?

From an F.A point of view, a lot of the time you have to be in sales mode, so you’ve got a property that you’re going out to sell and you are actively pitching that property to prospective sponsors. When you are not in sales mode, you are in client-servicing mode and you are making sure that sponsors that you’ve got get the most out of sponsorship deals that are in place. 

You’re also working towards a definitive cycle so there was always a definitive three/four year sponsorship cycle. At Coca-Cola things are a bit more fast-moving, those cycles maybe aren’t three or four years, they’re much more annual because that’s when the brands plan there activity. Things change a lot quicker and you’re reacting a lot more to the external environment than you would at a governing body. 


Has working in the drinks industry changed your view of the sports sector in any way?

It’s the first time that I’ve worked on properties that are truly global like the World Cup and the Olympics. Previously, my experiences have been much more based around the United Kingdom and Europe, so it has changed my perspective in terms of there are very few properties that you can talk about being global. Luckily at Coke, we sponsor most of them. It’s really a positive thing to work on something you know is going to be activated in hundreds of markets across the world. 


What is it about the Olympics that attract Coca-Cola as a sponsor?

I think it’s the ability to talk at a global level, but also localising the partnership as well. The Olympics are a property that appeals to everyone broadly, but on a local level you can make that message relevant to a particular local market, so through our Olympic sponsorship we also get sponsorship of the national Olympic committees and the teams as well. So whilst the Olympics might not be held in your market, every nation has a team that’s competing, so there’s a relevant interest.

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