Coke Reaches Out to China Market Via Gaming League

The world’s best-known soft drink brand is wooing young people in the world’s most populous country by sponsoring a video gaming league contest. Coca-Cola’s iCoke portal, an online presence in China with more than 29 million registered users, has partnered with GGL to conduct online regional gaming tournaments through the branded site.

GGL, formerly known as the Global Gaming League, is running the tournaments in 4,000 Local Area Network (LAN) Cafés in 15 provinces in China. The tournaments use the games World of Warcraft, Counterstrike and Freestyle Basketball for the competitions, and a winner will be flown to New York City to compete in the 2007 Digital Life gaming tournament in September.

Coke’s decision to sponsor video game tournaments, particularly in China, is based on its recognition that the Asian market is not only particularly interested in gaming but will generally gather at cafés to play, said Ted Owen, CEO and founder of GGL.

“Coca-Cola and the other sodas fight over the LAN cafés, similar to how we fight over sport stadiums in the U.S.,” said Owen. “China is a very important battleground for Coca-Cola and its competitors. It’s got enormous mass and brands are looking for a way to carve out their market share there.”

Coke itself has 8,000 Coke-supported cybercafés around the country it will use to promote the GGL tournament. For its part, GGL’s Chinese operations have been working in China for the past five years and have a working relationship with the China Internet Gaming Organizing Committee under the Chinese government’s Ministry of Information Industry.

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