Coke vs Pepsi wars to spill over cricketing pitch in IPL 6

20 Dec,2012

By Ratna Bhushan


If 20-20 cricket is not your cup of tea, there’s another good reason to grab a ringside seat during the new season of the Indian Premier League (IPL): the cola wars that will spill over onto the cricketing pitch.


While beverage maker PepsiCo has won the title sponsor bid for IPL-6, in what’s seen as an extravagant Rs 400-crore five-year deal, rival Coca-Cola has started talks to buy pouring rights for the nine IPL teams. Pouring rights for a beverage maker involve getting exclusive rights to serve its beverages in the team’s home stadiums.


Coca-Cola, which makes Thums Up and Coke besides lemon-lime drink Sprite and orange-flavoured Fanta, is also in talks with individual teams to buy space on T-shirts and jerseys of teams and advertise on perimeter boards at the stadium. The beverage maker already has an existing associate sponsorship deal with Mukesh Ambani’s Mumbai Indians team, which gives it rights to serve its beverages when the team plays.


Two officials involved with the developments said: “Coca-Cola is talking to all teams for pouring rights, placing its logo on the T-shirt or helmet of players and access to advertise on three perimeter boards.


Though PepsiCo has coughed up twice the amount paid by earlier title sponsorship holder and real estate major DLF, the beverage and snacks maker will still need to pay more for serving its beverages at the stadium or on-air advertising deals with IPL broadcast rights holder Sony Max.


“PepsiCo has also begun talks to the teams for pouring rights, but it may not be willing to pay an additional cost because it has already blocked a large part of its budgets for the title sponsorship,” one of the officials quoted earlier said.


A Coca-Cola spokesperson declined comment on the beverage giant’s plans for the IPL. Whether and if Coca-Cola will end up ambushing rival PepsiCo in the IPL next season is not yet clear. But IPL CEO Sundar Raman said: “The BCCI-IPL ambush marketing clauses are stringent and will protect all rights of central sponsors.”


A PepsiCo spokesperson did not want to comment on the prospect of a Coke ambush. Last month, PepsiCo won the title sponsorship rights of the tournament for Rs 396.8 crore for five seasons starting 2013 or Rs 80 crore a year -a bid many industry experts believe is overpriced.


Although Coke had bought the tender document for the IPL’s title sponsorship, it did not bid for sponsorship, citing the steep asking rates.


Still, that doesn’t stop Coke from either buying pouring rights of the teams, or advertising on team jerseys or helmets, or buying ad spots on IPL broadcaster Sony Max.


Pouring rights is not a central sponsorship, and deals have to be inked individually between the teams and firms. Teams are charging anywhere between 50 lakh and Rs 1 crore for pouring rights. The IPL T-20 tournament, scheduled for April-May, coincides with the peak summer season for beverage firms.


If Coke does cock a snook at Pepsi in IPL-6, it won’t be the first time that the cola giants have gone head to head. In IPL-2, for instance, Coke stole some of the thunder of Pepsi’s ‘Youngistan’ campaign by getting the latter’s brand ambassadors like Virender Sehwag and Ishant Sharma to be present at its promotional activities.


Coke could do this because it was an associate sponsor and official pouring partner for Delhi Daredevils (which Sehwag captained) and Kolkata Knight Riders (of which Sharma was a part).


But the credit for kicking off ambush marketing in India may well go to Pepsi. Pre-IPL, way back in the 1996 World Cup cricket series, Pepsi launched the ‘Nothing Official about It’ campaign to rival Coca-Cola’s sponsorship of the World Cup series.


Source:The Economic Times

Copyright © 2012, Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All Rights Reserved


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