Coca Cola has picked a virtual creation of Electronic Arts, Alex Hunter, to endorse its products. Alex Hunter first appeared on the scene when he was featured in the FIFA 17 video game in a feature known as ‘The Journey’. Financial terms of the deal between EA and Coca Cola were not disclosed.
The feature allows game players, in cinematic mode, to influence and experience how the virtual star manages to navigate his way in the competitive world of soccer. This includes being signed by a team in the English Premier League and so on. Alex Hunter has now made a comeback in FIFA 18 after a new storyline was introduced which had him signing with the L.A. Galaxy in the Major League Soccer after leaving the EPL.
Coca cola becomes part of the narrative when Hunter lands an endorsement deal with the beverage manufacturer. The video game fans and players are then able to access behind the scenes as the TV spot is being filmed.
The Atlanta, Georgia-based beverages company is planning on placing the video on various platforms including social media. It will also be shown on Coke’s billboard on Times Square. The virtual star is also featured on some of the packaging available in the real world. This includes packaging for some products such as Coke Zero Sugar, which is a rebranded Coke Zero.
This is not the first time Alex Hunter is getting an endorsement deal in the virtual world. In FIFA 17, he landed an endorsement deal with Adidas. It is, however, the first time that Coca Cola is signing a virtual athlete, according to Matt Wolf, a vice president in charge of strategic alliances, ventures and entertainment at the beverages giant.
One of the advantages of having an endorsement deal with a virtual athlete or virtual star is that a brand has more control over how the digital creation behaves since it is all scripted. There is thus no risk for the brand. Wolf, however, says brand safety was not the sole motivation behind the endorsement deal.
“[Hunter is representative of] the core of our DNA. He is the democratization of football stars. Everybody that plays ‘The Journey’ really falls in love with Alex and embodies themselves into his persona,” says Wolf.
The endorsement deal also dovetails well with the worldwide soccer marketing strategy of Coca Cola. Next year the beverages giant will be sponsoring the FIFA World Cup to be held in Russia.