Shah Rukh Khan-promoted Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) has tied up with soft drinks major Coca Cola for sponsorship during the coming IPL, days after the actor was dumped by rival beverage player PepsiCo as its brand ambassador.
“We are happy to announce that we have tied up with Coca Cola for (a) sponsorship deal for the IPL, which will include using the company`s logo as well as promoting their brand,” KKR Director Joy Bhattacharya told reporters.
He said the contract is especially for the IPL season and Coca Cola`s sparkling drink brand `Sprite` would be promoted as part of the campaign.
Bhattacharya, however, refused to share any more details regarding the deal, including size of the contract.
Coca Cola refused to comment on the development.
Coke`s deal with KKR comes on the heels of PepsiCo terminating its contract with Khan, who was the longest serving brand ambassador for the company.
PepsiCo had, however, said it is “currently in discussions with him to take the relationship to a new phase”.
Yesterday,Shahrukh told media,”Pepsi removed me”.
The plotline begins when PepsiCo dumped its decade-old brand ambassador Khan from its Youngistan campaign last week. Coca-Cola moved in, offering to sponsor KKR, which would have ensured that Khan and his team members — including Sourav Ganguly, also dropped by PepsiCo in 2008, and Ishant Sharma, an existing PepsiCo ambassador — are seen endorsing Coke products.
Coca-Cola, which is planning to push its Sprite brand of clear-lemon drink through KKR, is close to signing a two-year deal with the IPL team, people close to the matter told ET. However, on Tuesday, PepsiCo approached KKR with a counter offer, upping the stakes. ET has learnt that a letter of intent has been signed between Coca-Cola and KKR.
Both parties are meeting on Wednesday to take up the matter. Khan had publicly expressed his unhappiness about the way PepsiCo terminated his contract. As first reported by ET on February 13, PepsiCo had decided not to renew his contract.
Coca-Cola’s sponsorship deal includes merchandise branding rights — T-shirts, jerseys, helmets, caps — in-stadia branding rights on perimeters and dug-outs, aligning with the team as a beverage partner, serving Coca-Cola beverages in home stadiums, and below-the-line and above-the-line promotions by KKR team players. KKR team members and Khan may also feature in Coca-Cola advertising specific to IPL. Every IPL team gets to play seven matches in home stadiums.
Summer is peak season for beverage companies and Sprite, according to a recent study by AC Nielsen, had dislodged brand Pepsi as the country’s second-largest aerated beverage. Neither Coca-Cola nor Pepsi chose to comment on the developments.
PepsiCo has already closed a deal with India Cements-owned Chennai Super Kings and is still in talks with Mukesh Ambani’s Mumbai Indians. In IPL’s season one, Coca-Cola had walked away with the cup as its exclusive on-air sponsor.
PepsiCo’s five-year, Rs 50-crore deal with Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) as the IPL’s pouring rights partner, on the other hand, had turned out to be a damp squib and was later called off.
Though financials of the expected deal could not be confirmed, it is learnt that the deal — KKR’s deal with one of the cola makers — will involve an upfront cash transaction and a brand activation component. This is Coca-Cola’s second sponsorship deal with an IPL team, Delhi Daredevils being the first. The beverage maker is also learnt to be in talks with Preity Zinta-Ness Wadia-owned Punjab Kings XI.