While the PSL teams will be competing on the pitch starting tomorrow, the cola wars have officially begun behind the scenes. The two cola giants, Pepsi and Coca Cola, have gone head to head after the nation’s most beloved sport. Marketing wise PSL is a brilliant opportunity, the problem is there can only one king of the jungle.
Pepsi has ruled the cricket market in Pakistan and has been associated with it since the 80s. It was amongst the first brands to endorse cricket in Pakistan. The initial campaign featuring Imran Khan, Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram where they cool down with a cold bottle of Pepsi became an instant hit.
Apart from being the team’s official sponsor, Pepsi has worked with PCB on various talent hunt programmes.
Come 2019, it seems that all has changed. Coke, which was dominating the food and music market has decided to step into cricket and boy did they made sure that Pepsi heard.
Coke signed a 5 year deal with ICC and bowled Pepsi out as the official global sponsors of the sport! The 5 year agreement included all ICC events including the Men’s World Cup 2019
After the announcement, another product of Coke, Sprite went after PSL and managed to secure exclusive beverage rights for 4 teams.
This is not the first time the cola giants have gone through an agressive and messy spell in cricket. In 2001 Coke somehow managed to lure 7 top Pakistani cricketers who already enjoyed Pepsi’s lucrative logo deal with PCB – into doing a promotion for them.
Both Pepsi and Coke featured ads on PTV, with players like Saeed Anwar appearing in both ads which at times were being run back to back! This also created a big legal and PR problem for PCB which had a lengthy contract signed with Pepsi with it investing heavily in Pakistani Cricket at the time.
Pakistan Television (PTV) prime time was inundated with Pepsi and Coke ads featuring the Pakistani cricket superstars. Skipper Moin Khan (who reportedly led the pack into signing the deal), Saeed Anwar, Waqar Younis, and Azhar Mahmood appeared in the Coca-Cola ad brandishing Coke bottles and declaring ‘Enjoy!’ – the Coke slogan.
Pepsi on the other hand also stepped up its campaign, putting on air its commercials featuring Saeed Anwar and Shahid Afridi. And another ad showing the complete cricket team with Shoaib Akhtar driving a bus topping 100 MPH for a Pepsi bottle.
The scenario was made even more complicated as ads featuring Saeed Anwar promoting Pepsi or Coke were run back-to-back.
Pepsi, still being the Pakistan cricket team’s official beverage is very much in the fight. Pepsi enjoys exclusive deals with cricket teams all over the world though its major power house is India and Pakistan. Even in the current season of PSL, Pepsi is hosting the catch a crore campaign and are the exclusive title sponsors of Multan Sultans.