MLB Trades Pepsi for Coca-Cola as Soda Sponsor

By Sports FOXBusiness

Cases of Coca-Cola are shown for sale in Encinitas, California October 10, 2013. The Coca-Cola Company will report 3rd quarter earnings October 15. REUTERS/Mike Blake (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS) (Reuters)

Coca-Cola (KO) is the new official soft drink of Major League Baseball under a sponsorship agreement announced Monday.

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The soda and snack giant replaces Pepsi (PEP), which held the league’s soda partnership until now and continues to sponsor 11 clubs. Coca-Cola has long held the majority of team-level soda deals, including partnerships with the New York Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers.

With Monday’s announcement, Coca-Cola said it plans to unlock digital and social advertising that was previously controlled by its main rival.

“We’re a business that follows the consumer. Clearly teams and players are aware of where the action is,” said Coca-Cola North America President Sandy Douglas, noting a “total transformation of marketing toward digital.”

Douglas, speaking at an Opening Day press event at the Mets’ Citi Field, added that Coca-Cola’s new partnership with MLB “allows us to take our sponsorships of our 18 teams to a new level.”

Douglas declined to provide details about Coca-Cola’s advertising plans, although the brand is expected to have a strong presence at marquee events like the World Series and All-Star Game. He also said Coca-Cola is looking for the partnership to strengthen the company’s brand and “socialbility,” while sales are the “ultimate arbiter.”

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Bob Bowman, MLB’s president of business and media, said much of Coca-Cola’s ad campaign will be player-centric, similar to other league sponsors.

Coca-Cola, valued at $181 billion, is the second iconic American brand to sign up with America’s pastime in the last week. Nathan’s Famous (NATH) became the league’s first official hot dog through a multi-year sponsorship deal.

“All we need is apple pie and we’re all set,” Bowman joked.

Pepsi still holds soft-drink sponsorships with the NBA, NFL and NHL.

 

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