By Barry Janoff
April 13, 2015: For much of the past quarter-century, Gatorade has implored people to "Be Like Mike."
Parent company PepsiCo is giving more people the opportunity to do just that, signing a deal making its brands the official foods and beverages of the NBA, the WNBA, the Development League and USA Basketball.
Financial terms of the five-year deal, which begins following the current NBA season, were not shared.
PepsiCo replaces rival Coca-Cola, which has been an NBA sponsor since 1986.
PepsiCo is now an official partner of the NBA (and about a dozen of its teams), MLB, NFL and NHL, in addition to PGA of America, plus naming rights to Pepsi Center, home of the NBA's Denver Nuggets and NHL's Colorado Avalanche.
In a separate deal, Coca-Cola has signed a sponsorship deal to replace Pepsi as the official beverage of Major League Soccer. Pepsi had been partnered with MLS since 1996, the league's first season.
Gatorade has been an official NBA marketing partner since 1984, the league's longest such deal.
"We are absolutely thrilled to finally be announcing this partnership," NBA commissioner Adam Silver said during a media conference today in New York. "Because of Gatorade, we have a lot of time to cultivate this relationship. Activation worldwide will be the most importing aspect."
According to PepsiCo chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi, this alliance began with a conversation between Silver and her several years ago when Silver asked how the NBA could become as involved as the NFL and MLB with the company's portfolio of brands.
Taking a parting shot at Coca-Cola, commissioner Silver said, "Pepsi can do things no other brand in the category can offer. This will be a first-class partnership."
In a statement, Coca-Cola said that the company has "committed an incremental $1 billion toward its brands over the next three years, and with this commitment comes the need to focus on the most effective and efficient investments to maximize brand growth. The company will continue to have a strong presence with basketball culture and through our relationships with iconic players.”
Cola-Cola has endorsement deals with LeBron James and Derrick Rose. The company Coca-Cola also is an official partner with the NCAA, IOC/USOC, FIFA and Nascar, in addition to its new deal with MLS.
PepsiCo has deals that include Kyrie Irving (who plays Uncle Drew in Pepsi commercials) and Russell Westbrook (Mountain Dew Kickstart). Pepsi ambassadors also include Serena Williams, Usain Bolt, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and musician Usher.
Mountain Dew will beginning with the 2016 All-Star Game be title sponsor for the Slam Dunk event, taking over from Sprite. The brand also will play a "lead and significant role" in expanding the NBA's 3-on-3 competition that will re-launch with six U.S. cities and marketing and other activations in the U.S. and China.
A new "Do the Dew" campaign, the brand's first global effort, includes support of Fast & Furious and We Are Blood skateboarding lifestyle film from Mountain Dew Green Label Films, as well as support of Florida Georgia Line's "Anything Goes Tour" this year. Dew's lead agency in BBDO, NY.
"This is an especially thrilling day for us," PepsiCo's Nooyi said at the media conference in New York. "Gatorade is woven into the fabric of the game. Now, we are looking forward to bringing our brand portfolio to the NBA, led by Mountain Dew."
In addition to Gatorade and Mountain Dew, PepsiCo said that the new partnership would also see activation from brands including Aquafina, Brisk, Doritos and Ruffles.
The new alliance will also involve PepsiCo company partner Tingyi, China's largest soda producer, to use the league's portfolio of assets in that nation.
"There are 300 million NBA fans in China," Nooyi said of the company's target audience there. "We are just getting started. This is very exciting."
"Gatorade is woven into the fabric of the game. Now, we are looking forward to bringing our brand portfolio to the NBA, led by Mountain Dew."
Echoed Silver, "We're honored to partner with PepsiCo — a company with a terrific global vision and a reputation for engaging with premium sports and entertainment programming. For the NBA, a comprehensive food and beverage company like PepsiCo offers endless opportunities for collaboration. We can't wait to get started."
Regarding its new alliance in soccer, Coca-Cola said that its multi-year partnership with the U.S. Soccer Federation and MLS will "help bring soccer to new heights in the United States."
The deal also includes a renewal of the company’s current partnership with the Mexican National Team’s U.S. Tour.
Coca-Cola will be the official beverage partner across the non-alcoholic beverage category for U.S. Soccer and the Mexican National Team’s U.S. Tour. The exclusive alliance with MLS will include the carbonated beverage and water categories.
Coca-Cola has been a global partner of the FIFA World Cup since 1974.
“Coca-Cola and the beautiful game have always been associated with each other — whether at a global or local level," Ivan Pollard, svp-investment, connections and assets for Coca-Cola North America, said in a statement."With this new partnership, we are committed to growing soccer here in the U.S. and using the power of our brands to engage and refresh fans at every level of the sport."
According to Kathy Carter, president for Soccer United Marketing, the licensing and marketing arm of MLS, “The sport of soccer is on the rise like never before, and adding Coca-Cola as a key strategic partner speaks to the continued progress we are making to become a dominant Soccer Nation."