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SBJ/June 11-17, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship
After 50-plus years with Coke, Steelers switching to Pepsi
Published June 11, 2012, Page 10
If that ad were to be updated for the coming NFL season, however, you’d need to replace Coke’s ubiquitous contour bottle with a container of Pepsi. Pepsi is replacing Coke as the Steelers’ soft drink sponsor, ending a relationship between the red cola and the team that lasted more than 50 years.
The move is a 180 from what’s happening at the other end of Pennsylvania, where the Philadelphia Eagles are flipping from Pepsi to Coke, and comes at a time when more than 20 NFL team soft drink sponsorships are in play (SportsBusiness Journal, April 30-May 6).
|Joe Greene drank a Coke in the iconic Super Bowl ad, but the Steelers are making a change.|
The original “Mean Joe” Coke ad from McCann-Erickson has been mimicked many times. Most recently, Procter & Gamble used Greene in a homage from Grey Advertising to the Steelers’ original ad, this time for Downy fabric softener. The ad, which ran in this year’s Super Bowl pregame show, was nearly identical to the original, save for the fact that when Greene throws his jersey as a gift, it is thrown back, because it’s malodorous. “Last time I’m doing this,” Greene says.
Troy Polamalu reprised the role in a 2009 Super Bowl ad for Coke Zero, and the original commercial inspired a 1981 NBC TV movie, “The Steeler and the Pittsburgh Kid,” in which Greene played himself.
Along with replacing the lines that pour soda at Heinz Field, a change-out will have to be made at the Coca-Cola Great Hall, a museum and hall of fame at Heinz Field that showcases Steeler history.
We can’t see Coke allowing Pepsi to swap beverages in the ad as well, but there will be plenty of opportunities for Pepsi to activate its new rights. This is the 80th anniversary of the Steelers and the 40th anniversary of Franco Harris’ “Immaculate Reception.”
BETTER LUCK: While Andrew Luck was the top pick in this year’s NFL draft, we continue to believe that Robert Griffin III will be the most marketable player among this year’s crop of incoming collegians. Griffin, chosen second overall by the Washington Redskins, recently shot a Nissan campaign in Los Angeles with some fellow Heisman Trophy winners, including Eddie George, Herschel Walker and Mark Ingram. For Nissan, lead sponsor of the Heisman Trophy, it’s a relaunch of last season’s Heisman House campaign, which ran on ESPN. The Nissan ad is one of at least three national ads RG III will have this year. The others are for Adidas and Subway. CAA represents RG III.
Terry Lefton can be reached at email@example.com.