Learning during a live cricket match at the ICC World Cup has its own charm. Cheers, gasps and the occasional surprises get registered in the mind forever while having fun at work.

In January this year, Coca-Cola and the International Cricket Council (ICC) partnered again after an interval of more than two decades. The 5-year partnership will encompass every ICC tournament including men, women and youth series. 

Partnership that brings everyone on board

Bringing such a massive global partnership to life is going to be a tough grind. It will take the strength of the entire Coca-Cola system to make it shine. Preparation, foresight as well as development of internal talent. The company, therefore, did something unexpected. Everyone from Coca-Cola India was given a chance to learn from the marketing execution of the sporting extravaganza of this scale, all this while watching the best cricketing action in the UK.

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The announcement that knocked it out of the park for employees

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When the announcement about all the teams visiting UK for the matches was made some months ago, it was met with a thunderous response. The buzz since then has refused to subside as hectic preparations have been on to execute the plan and ensure that the employees gain as much as possible from this experience

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All the employees are going in batches of about 20 people. They will be at the stadium along with their team members watching the matches. They will also be diligently taking notes.

It is here that the learning begins. Some of the key takeaways would be how global marketing teams execute such mega sporting events, as well as understanding the consumer preferences and the retail sector in a developed market. 

Their notes will not be about the matches but about stadium branding, 360-degree activation, perimeter boards and other activities that catch the attention of fans. The fun of watching the match and learning at the stadium will be something that the employees have been excited about.

Learning for everyone

On a Saturday nearly a month ago, Vidisha Mehta was out with friends. Suhas Repally was watching a movie with his family. Divya Jyothi was with her parents at their Hyderabad home while Akshay Vashisht was spending time with friends at a cafe.

A few weeks ago, their excitement of the four MBA graduates had hit the roof when they were chosen to join Coca-Cola as management trainees. As they enjoyed their friends-and-family time, a few weeks before their date of joining in June, there was an urgent message from Coca-Cola’s HR department.

As they hurriedly got on to a video call, they were told that the four were also going to be on a flight to UK to watch the matches. The screen could have exploded with excitement.

“I said on the call that I was ready to give up one month’s salary for it,” Akshay laughed. “I had not expected anything like this,” Divya recalled that day.

“My mom wondered why the company was doing this when we had not formally joined,” Divya added. The parents of others thought no differently.

Efforts have been made to include all new hires and management trainees so that they can draw heavily on this wealth of experience for the years to come. It is a learning opportunity for everyone. Stadiums will be ‘practical classrooms’ on how marketing teams execute the branding and activation plans during such big events.

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Preparing for the excitement

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When employees work that hard, can fun be far behind? While the details of the learning programmes were being finalised, the company made sure to include some fun as well.

The teams went through a detailed briefing exercise with every minutiae in the itinerary being taken care of. Briefing sessions helped them understand how they could take away the most from the experience.

Memories, stories and experiences

With the anticipation building and fans praying to the rain gods to move sombre clouds away from the cricketing arenas, this world cup is surely creating some everlasting memories!

The opportunity to travel to one of the world’s biggest sporting events, witness a new global partnership and watch pulsating cricket matches await employees in England.

And when they are back to regale friends and family with umpteen stories, they will also be making presentations back at the office on their learnings. 

“We are leveraging an outstanding association for the benefit of everyone in the organisation. It is gives everyone an opportunity to learn,” affirms Nishi Chaturvedi, Vice President HR, Coca-Cola India.