Coke’s Joe Belliotti Talks World Cup and Coca-Cola’s Global Music Strategy (Q&A)

“We’re not a record label, we’re a beverage company and we do really good marketing.”

As Coca-Cola’s head of Global Entertainment, Joe Belliotti is behind “The World is Ours,” Coke’s FIFA 2014 World Cup Brazil anthem campaign, the largest music initiative around a sporting event in the company’s history. Belliotti has overseen the recording of over 20 versions of “The World is Ours,” including a new remix with Aloe Blacc, released today (April 15).

Emmanuel Seuge & Joe Belliotti: The 2014 Billboard Power 100

Belliotti will speak on the panel "Goooaall!!!! The Making and Marketing of the Music for the World Cup" at the Billboard Latin Music Conference April 22 at Miami’s JW Marriott Marquis.
You selected David Correy, an unsigned artist best known as a former "X Factor" contestant, to be the main voice of your World Cup campaign. He has recorded on all of the versions of the anthem and performed around the world on the FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour. Now, as the World Cup approaches, he is also working on a solo EP. Is Coca-Cola invested in his career beyond the World Cup?
I have nothing to compare it to because never have we tried to do something so big and ambitious around music. Giving a platform like this to an emerging artist is something we’ve done historically [though]. For example, for the 2012 Olympics, [we paired] Mark Ronson with Katy B, who was popular in Great Britain but not really known in the 100-plus countries of the Olympic program. K’naan did have an album out and was popular in 2010, but not to the extent of the World Cup campaign that happened.
How is Coca-Cola's relationship with David Correy unique?
We have a unique business structure with David and [producers] Rock Mafia, and another party, that we struck in a way that we kind of all grew and built this thing together; it goes beyond the World Cup. I think we have a responsibility as the people who brought him into that program to make sure he’s able to leverage that. That’s the type of collaboration with David and Rock Mafia that we have, and that’s the type of collaboration we’ll have with other partners down the line.
Coca-Cola announced a partnership with Spotify in 2012. How specifically have you been working with Spotify since then?
When we signed our global marketing partnership with Spotify we set out to do three things. One was help them scale into new markets -- at the time they were in 18 countries and now they’re in 55 countries. We helped them with marketing support in many of those countries, to hopefully help them grow faster than they could have done on their own. The second was to use Spotify as a music content and technology layer in all of our campaigns, like having Spotify co-branding on our new packs in Europe. And the third is really based on innovation: How can we do things on Spotify that either we weren’t able to do before because we didn’t have a deep relationship with a content and technology partner or maybe things that Spotify wanted to try to pilot themselves?
One example of that was the “Places” app. We wanted to create an app that would potentially being together the physical world and the world of music and places. We found that the idea of connecting music and places was really powerful; so many people have a story about where they heard the first song or an artist where they played their first show. So we released it as a Coca-Cola profile page. We have about 135,000 people following our brand page, which gives us the ability to create a collection of playlists based on different themes and curated by different artists. We were the first brand to release a profile page on Spotify, so it allowed Coca-Cola and Spotify to test and learn and hopefully set a model for other brands to leverage the platform in the same way.


Coca-Cola has a history of equating singing with happiness and harmony. How did you work with Pharell and Spotify for International Happiness Day?
On our page you’ll see things like the Happiness playlist by Pharell for International Happiness Day. And we created the Happiness Remix - we mashed together basically all these songs we’ve been creating throughout the year, from unsigned artists from different parts of the world, and we took 17 songs and created what we billed as the worlds happiest song -- question mark -- is this the worlds happiest song? We wanted to just bring that idea of music makes you happier, music can lift your mood. And this was a fun way into it for us.
What is the payoff for Coca-Cola from these music initiatives?
I think the payoff is it allows us to have another sensory experience for the brand. The vision is to have the same expression through music where people can find that happiness, that uplift, that positivity through music, through a Coke Spotify page, through something we’re doing on our web site, through one of the experiences we’re creating around the world. It's creating that consistent experience around music that brings to life our brand and what the brand means.
Overall what do you see as Coke’s role in music?
There’s an opportunity for Coke to be part of the musical ecosystem, to support artists like we support Pharell. To support emerging talent [like David Correy], and to support a label initiative -- we have one of our Spotify playlists curated by Island Records, for example. So we are trying to bring value as a marketing partner to the music industry, but I think even more so we’re trying to bring value to the audience and create content experiences that maybe weren’t accessible to them -- to really try to bring the music fans something that they couldn't find anywhere else.
I don't ever see Coca-Cola becoming a record label. We’re not a record label. We’re a beverage company and we do really good marketing. And I think if we can put that at the service of the music industry and the artists, that’s a good role for us to play.