Coke Wins Post-Olympics Gold Medal In Juice Buy

Last Updated Sep 4, 2008 4:22 PM EDT

ancient_olympics.jpgCoke is "it" in China. The soft drink maker was part of a group of 12 international companies that put up $1 billion to become official "sponsors" of the just-ended Beijing Summer Olympics.
Apparently, those bucks generated more fizz for Coca-Cola which is on track to make the biggest foreign buyout ever in China -- that of juice maker China Huiyuan.
Chinese government officials still need to approve the all-cash dea,l valued at $2.5 billion. But it seems obvious that Coke's handling of the Olympics is about to earn it a gold medal.

The juice deal will give Coke a better market position as it battles arch-rival PepsiCo. in the Middle Kingdom. China is Coke's No. 4 market and is increasingly important as domestic U.S. sales have been rather flat.

Business observers have been watching closely how companies played the Olympics for marketing tips. It looks like Coke might be a great example.

Other corporate sponsors include Kodak, Johnson & Johnson, Lenovo, McDonald's, Panasonic, Visa, Atos Origin, Samsun, Omega and Manulife. All bet that their prominent exposure to more than a billion potential Chinese customers will make a positive impression and win market share.