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Volume 21 No. 39
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Pepsi adds five years to NHL sponsorship

Pepsi’s activation has included highlighting Pepsi Zero Sugar.
Photo: Getty Images

The NHL and NHLPA are keeping Pepsi on ice for another five years. PepsiCo has signed an extension of their North American partnership that continues a relationship dating back more than a decade.


Neither the NHL, the NHLPA nor PepsiCo would comment on the deal terms, but sources said it is a five-year extension with options for additional years. Between activation and media commitments, the deal is valued at more than eight figures per year, an increase from the five-year extension PepsiCo signed in 2012. It represents one of the league’s top-five revenue-generating partnerships.


PepsiCo has been a league partner since 2006 and also sponsors roughly half of the league’s teams. The new deal will see PepsiCo retain exclusive NHL North American rights in the non-alcoholic beverage, sports nutrition and savory snack categories.


PepsiCo activation this season has included highlighting Pepsi Zero Sugar during the NHL Winter Classic. It also features Gatorade prominently during games, with branded squeeze bottles seen atop the goals, in the penalty boxes and on the bench in all 31 NHL arenas.


NHL Chief Revenue Officer Keith Wachtel said the league highlighted the in-arena exposure, and the league’s continued expansion of its events calendar, during the renewal process.


While the deal isn’t expanding in terms of category exclusivity, Wachtel noted that PepsiCo will receive more assets and will be provided more opportunities to activate alongside the league at events and via digital and social content. That’s because of the growth of the league not only to a 31st market in Las Vegas, but thanks to its media partnerships with BAMTech and Rogers, deals struck after the 2012 extension.


Wachtel negotiated the deal on behalf of the NHL, alongside Kyle McMann, NHL group vice president of integrated sales, directly with PepsiCo Beverages Canada President Richard Glover and Genesco Sports Enterprises Vice President Larry Goldman.


Mathieu Schneider, NHLPA special assistant to the executive director, said PepsiCo has worked closely with the NHL and NHLPA over the course of its previous deal to highlight players such as Drew Doughty and Brent Burns in marketing campaigns, especially in Canada, something he expects to continue. “We’ve seen their commitment to growing the game of hockey overall, and they’ve been a great brand to work and collaborate with,” he said.


PepsiCo is planning its activation for the 2018 All-Star Game and Stadium Series game, and will do a Stanley Cup-themed campaign again this year, said Claudia Calderon, senior director of marketing for PepsiCo Beverages Canada.


“In the last year or so, when we look back at some of the activations we’ve done alongside the World Cup of Hockey and across celebrating the [NHL] centennial, we think there is a lot of opportunity and a lot of great assets that we haven’t quite tapped into yet,” Calderon said, noting the opportunities for the company across the NHL’s branded social and digital platforms. “The addition of Las Vegas just shows the continued growth of the sport and the league, as well as how many more and more fans are engaging with the sport every day.”


Although the NHL relaunched its international platform last year, which included games in both China and Sweden, the renewal provides exclusivity to PepsiCo in these categories only in North America, unlike deals the NHL has with partners such as Adidas and SAP. That would allow the NHL to sign a partnership in one of those categories that could be exclusive to Europe, China or both — areas of the world that are expected to host future events and games as soon as next season.