SBJ/January 15 - 21, 2001/This Weeks Issue

PepsiCo, Bi-Lo give SoCo promo a go for hoops tournament

PepsiCo and grocery chain Bi-Lo Inc., through recent corporate partnership deals signed with the Southern Conference, are planning to launch a promotion around the men's and women's conference basketball championships and the NCAA basketball tournaments.

The promotion will be held exclusively in Bi-Lo's more than 280 stores, which are situated in the Southeast. It will center on Pepsi's Mountain Dew brand and will include in-store sweepstakes for trips to the Final Four, tickets to the Southern Conference basketball tournaments and point-of-sales displays highlighting both the conference tournament and March Madness, said Michael Carr, the Southeast business unit marketing manager for Pepsi.

The benefit for Pepsi is the opportunity to set up a regional tie-in to its national NCAA sponsorship, Carr said. The partnership with Bi-Lo made sense because Bi-Lo's stores are in Southern Conference markets, he said.

Devron Edwards, senior vice president and manager of the Southern Conference account for Host Communications Inc., said Pepsi originally was going to give Bi-Lo some pass-through rights to the sponsorship but Bi-Lo officials wanted to be involved in a "full-blown corporate partnership."

Pepsi and Bi-Lo completed their three-year corporate sponsorship agreements with the Southern Conference earlier this month. Pepsi also extended its agreement to have Mountain Dew as title sponsor for the conference's basketball tournaments for an additional three years, Edwards said. The tournaments will be played this year from March 1 through March 4 at the Bi-Lo Center in Greenville, S.C.

Conference and sponsor officials declined comment on the exact value of the deals, but according to individuals familiar with corporate sponsorship packages for midmajor conferences, Southern Conference packages probably sell for $100,000 to $250,000 annually. The basketball promotions will be introduced early next month and run through the first week in March.

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