By Paul Nicholson
September 21 – FIFA sponsor Coca-Cola has teamed up with FIFA 18 video gamemaker EA Sports to sign Alex Hunter as a brand ambassador in advance of the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Don’t bother trying to work out who Hunter plays for, he only exists as a virtual athlete in the FIFA 18 game.
Hunter debuted on the virtual scene last year in FIFA 17 via ‘The Journey’ narrative that allows game players to influence his football career. EA brings Hunter back for FIFA 18 in a storyline about a comeback with L.A. Galaxy in the MLS after failing in the English Premier League.
Hunter signs an endorsement deal with the Coke brand and players of the video game go behind the scenes for the filming of the TV ad.
“This is an exciting brand innovation,” said Matt Wolf, vice president of entertainment, ventures & strategic alliances at The Coca-Cola Company. “Signing Alex Hunter puts Coca-Cola at the intersection of gaming and brand marketing within the most popular franchise sports game in the world.”
Coke has a long history of signing athletes but it is the first time Coke has signed a deal with a virtual. But it isn’t Hunter’s first endorsement deal. In FIFA 17 he was signed with Adidas.
“It’s great to be a part of this truly unique collaboration, the first of its kind,” said Dave Madden, head of global brand partnerships for EA. “This in-game Coca-Cola endorsement gives our fans a taste of life as a renowned football star and the opportunities that come along with it.”
Coke will place the video in social media using paid ad support as well as on Coke’s Times Square billboard in NY. Hunter is also featuring Hunter on some Coke packaging – a physical manifestation.
The TV ad echoes Coke’s iconic Mean Joe Green which a fan cheers up the downtrodden football player with a Coke. And in the Hunter ad instead of throwing a jersey to the fan as a thank you, he takes a selfie with him.
Neither EA Sports or Coke have given a value for the deal with Hunter. Paid in bitcoins perhaps?
FIFA 18 launches September 29.
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