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PEPSICO WAGES A COLA WAR IN SIGNING MLB DEAL
Published March 19, 1997
PepsiCo and MLB announced a five-year marketing deal that will make Pepsi the official soft drink MLB and gives the company exclusive rights to use MLB trademarks, including post-season and All-Star Game logos. The deal also gives Pepsi the use of MLB team marks in advertising, packaging, merchandising and promotions (PepsiCo). COLA WAR: In N.Y., Stefan Fatsis writes that PepsiCo also plans to run ads on Fox Sports national TV broadcasts beginning this year, and create new baseball-themed ads for '98. MLB will collect "only about" $1M per year in rights fees from PepsiCo to be split among the teams. Fatsis notes that with the deal, MLB "is playing both sides of the cola wars, and thus risking alienating Coke, one of its oldest and biggest sponsors." Coca-Cola's local sponsorships of 24 of 28 MLB teams include stadium pouring rights. PepsiCo sponsors four teams and the two expansion teams which begin play in '98. PepsiCo "will face the awkward problem" of being banned from distributing its All-Star ballots in ballparks, and instead will run the promo in conjunction with 7-Eleven stores. MLB execs say they are planning to sign another sponsor for in-stadium ballots (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 3/19). ESPN's Bob Ley added that Pepsi's deal includes a contest winner throwing out the first pitch before Game of the World Series ("SportsCenter," 3/18). COKE SAYS NO THANKS? The JOURNAL's Fatsis adds that Coca-Cola "rejected" the chance to "lock up" MLB's national sponsorship as recently as last weekend. Sources "familiar with the transaction" said the reason was that Coca-Cola "maintains its consumer research shows baseball fans only care about the game on a local level and don't respond well to the All-Star Game promotion" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 3/19).