SBJ/20081117/This Week's News

Pepsi names veteran Dubiel head of sports marketing

Pepsi’s new vice president of sports marketing is Jeff Dubiel, a marketing veteran of the $39.5 billion beverage and snack food giant. Dubiel has held the title of vice president of premium beverages since 2006, and comes to the company’s sports division after stints at SoBe and the Starbucks/Pepsi beverage partnership. He was a marketing manager at the Gallo Winery before joining Pepsi.

Dubiel moves to Pepsi’s top sports post after the recent promotion of former sports chief Ralph Santana to vice president of colas, N.A. Santana ran the company’s sports media and interactive marketing division for around two years. Agency sources said Dubiel’s new slot will not include the media responsibilities that were held by Santana. Since Santana left in September, John Stamatis, director of sports marketing, led the department.

Pepsi touts a broad sports portfolio that includes MLB and NFL league and team deals, title sponsorship of the AST Dew Tour and deals with NASCAR icons Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon. So Dubiel takes on a role that is daunting at any time. However, a current comprehensive $1.2 billion relaunch of key Pepsi beverage brands over the next three years will increase pressure on Pepsi marketers.

“Jeff’s very pragmatic in his approach,” said a Pepsi agency source. “Whether it is sports, music, or entertainment. It’s all about building brands and moving cases.”

Like almost every consumer brand, Pepsi is feeling pressure from the economic slowdown. It recently reported a decline in third-quarter profits, citing soft domestic beverage sales — marking the first time it had missed Wall Street expectations since 1999. Accordingly, agencies and sports and non-sports properties are now scrambling to grab a piece of the big Pepsi relaunch planned for 2009 that will include events such as New Year’s Day, Inauguration Day and the Super Bowl, where Pepsi has been a fixture as an advertiser.

Additionally, Pepsi is looking to combine some aspects of sports marketing between its cola and Gatorade units, which have been operated separately. John Galloway, Pepsi’s top sports marketer from 2001 to 2006, started in Chicago in July as vice president of marketing at Gatorade, shortly after former Nike marketer Sarah O’Hagan was installed as Gatorade CMO in June.

Pepsi’s move with Dubiel continues a marketing reorganization, which began in July, when Cie Nicholson, Pepsi-Cola North America senior vice president/CMO, resigned and Dave Burwick was named CMO, beverage brands.

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