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PepsiCo completes major league set with NBA deal

Soft drinks and snack food giant PepsiCo has signed a multi-year marketing partnership with the NBA, replacing rival brand Coca-Cola on the commercial roster of the North American basketball league.

Terms were not officially disclosed for the agreement, although ESPN.com reports that it will run for five years, from the 2015-16 to 2019-20 season. AdAge.com added that the new sponsorship is expected to begin in July, after the current season concludes with the NBA Finals in June.

The lead brand in the partnership will be PepsiCo’s Mountain Dew, taking the prominent place previously enjoyed by Coca-Cola’s Sprite soft drink. Mountain Dew is to be promoted through several new fan and community activities and the NBA’s expanding NBA 3X ‘three-on-three’ basketball programme.

Snack brands Doritos and Ruffles and tea and juice drink Brisk will also be promoted, with water brand Aquafina supporting the NBA’s youth, health and wellness initiatives. The NBA’s long-running partnership with PepsiCo energy drink Gatorade is unaffected.

PepsiCo is also a partner of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), NBA Development League (D-League), USA Basketball and NBA China under the agreement. In China, PepsiCo partner and soft drink manufacturer Tingyi will position its Master Kong brand as the lead beverage of the partnership. 

"We're honoured to partner with PepsiCo – a company with a terrific global vision and a reputation for engaging with premium sports and entertainment programming," NBA commissioner Adam Silver said.  "For the NBA, a comprehensive food and beverage company like PepsiCo offers endless opportunities for collaboration.  We can't wait to get started."

PepsiCo is now a partner of the four major sports leagues in the United States, having been a partner of the NFL American football competition since 2002 and renewing a long-standing association with Major League Baseball last year. It also sponsors the National Hockey League, although Coca-Cola replaced it as a major partner of Major League Soccer yesterday (Monday).

In a statement released to AdAge.com, a Coca-Cola spokesperson said: “We remain fans of the NBA and have shared remarkable experiences during our 28-year partnership, however we have made the decision not to renew our global contract at the end of the 2014-2015 season. The Coca-Cola Company has committed an incremental $1bn (€909m) 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 maximise brand growth.”