Ricardo Fort, Coca-Cola’s vice-president of global sports partnerships, oversees one of the largest sports and entertainment sponsorship portfolios in the entire industry, a massive collection of worldwide assets for one of the world’s most venerable consumer brands that includes large-scale alignments with the International Olympic Committee, Fifa, Major League Baseball and the NCAA, among others.
But the Covid-19 pandemic has cut short many of the brand’s 2020 sports activation plans, with key events such as March Madness, the start of the MLB regular season and the Tokyo Olympics all either cancelled or postponed.
A veteran global sports marketer with prior stops at Visa, Groupe Danone, Kellogg, and Unilever on three different continents, Fort is now seeking to nimbly guide the brand into the industry’s tentative recovery.
Among his more recent moves is an extension of the company’s presenting rights for Nascar’s officially sanctioned esports property, as well as a separate deal with emerging live-streaming platform #BeApp that calls for Coca-Cola to serve as the title sponsor of 100 concerts from artists’ homes between now and July, and includes a charitable component for the International Red Cross.
Fort spoke with SportBusiness US editor Eric Fisher on how the Atlanta, Georgia-based company is navigating the public health crisis and eyeing the future prospect of better days.
How has your management of the brand’s sports marketing portfolio changed amid the ongoing pandemic?
It’s about understanding where sponsorships and marketing sit in the overall big picture, particularly as it relates to taking care of people and making sure the operation continues to run, which are our priorities.
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