The Indian Premier League this season may see a battle of the giants of a different kind — off field.
Although PepsiCo has sealed a Rs. 400-crore, five-year title sponsorship deal for the IPL, it may soon run into an ambush from its archrival Coca-Cola, which is negotiating with individual teams for exclusive “beverage pouring” contracts.
The contracts will allow Coke to serve its products during the matches and may turn out to be a sweet revenge against PepsiCo, which launched the “Nothing Official About It” campaign during the 1996 cricket World Cup, mocking at Coke’s official sponsorship status.
So this season, players could be gulping down Coke served from company-branded refrigerators in a tournament sponsored by PepsiCo. What’s more, being the team sponsor will allow Coke to install four billboards in the home team’s stadium and buy space on team jerseys.
Interestingly, if a cola war breaks out during the IPL, the biggest beneficiaries will be the teams, as each deal is worth Rs. 2-5 crore. Coke has signed the first deal with Mumbai Indians.
A Pepsi spokesperson, however, refused to comment on the battle plans, saying, “We are confident of deriving tremendous value from this strategic and long-term partnership.”