Rivalries don’t only exist on the playing field. In this case, the battle takes place between the world’s leading soft drink brands.
Coke vs. Pepsi.
Coca-Cola vs. PepsiCo.
Even their different product lines (Crystal Pepsi, Pepsi Max, Diet Pepsi, Pepsi-Cola vs. Coke Zero, Diet Coke, Cherry Coke) and subsidiaries (Powerade vs. Gatorade) wage war amongst one another.
In the fight for soft drink supremacy, the competition to capture consumer attention has never been greater. As the world revolves around the impact of COVID-19, marketing strategies have shifted on a dime forcing these brands to think more fluidly (pun intended) than ever before.
Pepsi has adapted well to the new landscape. While they recently announced The Weeknd as their marquee act for the 2021 Pepsi Super Bowl Halftime Show, the blue brand has ensured their mark is made on the biggest stage.
The Official Soft Drink of the National Football League, Pepsi has also activated their brand across the globe as is evident by their extended push into soccer (UEFA Champions League) and throughout North America (numerous teams within MLS, NBA, NFL, NHL, and MLB have partnerships with Pepsi).
Importantly, one of Pepsi’s ever-growing assets is its roster of player endorsements. As talented as these athletes are on the field, they boast even more charismatic and dynamic personalities off of it.
8. Joe Corona | Major League Soccer
7. Jason & Devin McCourty | NFL
Instagram Following: 439,000
Twitter Following: 176,000
Facebook Following: 117,000
Total Following: 732,000
They say two heads are better than one. And the McCourty twins have no problem doubling the fun in their sponsorship deal with Pepsi.
The two NFL players have shown their comedic chops on social media as they have teamed up with Pepsi to giveaway jerseys, signed Patriots merch, footballs, and more. The brothers also produce game breakdowns on a weekly basis as voted on by fans.
6. Aaron Judge | MLB
Instagram Following: 1.2 million
Twitter Following: 401,000
Facebook Following: N/A
Total Following: 1.6 million
Aaron Judge is no stranger to Pepsi having grown up with the soft drink regularly stocked in his fridge. The New York Yankees’ superstar has had quite a few unique collaborations with the soft drink giant promotion regular Pepsi, Pepsi Zero Sugar, and Diet Pepsi. For one, Judge has not been shy about making his persona accessible to fans. Earlier this year, he worked with Pepsi to give away a 30-minute Zoom session and an autographed photo of Judge to 20 lucky winners. And to further involve fans, the Major League Baseball All-Star issued a #JudgeFreePass for fans to utilize creative voicemails and OOO emails during Opening Day 2020 (you know, so they wouldn’t feel bad for playing hooky).
This wasn’t Judge’s first time volunteering his time. Last year, he collaborated with Pepsi in the latest installment of his #JudgeForYourself campaign. In the spoof infomercial posted to his social media, Judge encourages fans to grab a Pepsi Zero Sugar for a chance to be coached by #99 himself.
And what’s better than an athlete-driven content series? Judge teamed up with Jersey Mike’s for a series of sit down videos named “Aaron’s Way” after the customized combo was named after Judge. Within the combo, cross-promotion is utilized amongst PepsiCo and its subsidiary Frito-Lay with both Pepsi and Lays being highlighted in the videos and within the combo itself.
5. Bradley Beal | NBA
Instagram Following: 1.1 million
Twitter Following: 517,000
Facebook Following: 436,000
Total Following: 2 million
Earlier this year, Beal teamed up with PepsiCo to deliver meals to children in need as part of the “No Kid Hungry” campaign.
4. Saquon Barkley | NFL
Instagram Following: 2.2 million
Twitter Following: 420,000
Facebook Following: N/A
Total Following: 2.6 million
One of the rising stars within the National Football League, the marquee running back is no stranger to the blue brand, having won the 2018 Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year in his debut season with the New York Giants. Saquon is also familiar with the beverage company off the field as he partnered with Pepsi to fight child hunger.
3. Raheem Sterling | English Premier League
Instagram Following: 7.3 million
Facebook Following: 5.4 million
Twitter Following: 2.5 million
Total Following: 15.2 million
Sterling is no stranger to success off the pitch having crafted quite the sports sponsorships portfolio for himself as he has aligned with Clarks Originals Shoes, Lucozade Sport, and Gillette. With Pepsi, The Englishman has appeared alongside fellow footballers Lionel Messi, Paul Pogba, and Mo Salah in promotion of the brand’s partnership with the UEFA Champions League. Sterling has appeared on his social media advertising Pepsi Max whilst answering questions about his footballing career.
2. Paul Pogba | English Premier League
Instagram Following: 42.3 million
Facebook Following: 18.7 million
Twitter Following: 8 million
Total Following: 69 million
The World Cup winner joins Mo Salah, Raheem Sterling, and Lionel Messi in Pepsi’s UEFA Champions League campaign with a clever ad spot and impromptu #PepsiCanBalance challenge. In the end, we are all winners (especially those who he has endorsement deals with) whenever Pogba is able to leverage his footballing skills and fashion sense on social media.
1. Lionel Messi | La Liga
Instagram Following: 168 million
Facebook Following: 101 million
Twitter Following: N/A
Total Following: 269 million
Arguably the greatest (ever) footballer on Planet Earth, Messi’s sponsorship deal with Pepsi has ranged throughout the majority of his career as he has been the poster boy within spots revolving around the 2010 and 2018 FIFA World Cup.
This year’s campaign centers around the ever-growing popularity of the prestigious UEFA Champions League. The theme employs some of the cooler visual advertisements you will see. Centering around the #ForTheLoveOfIt, the brand has activated virtual challenges, branded cans, a crispy GIF for his 700th career goal, and beautifully timed LED sigange inclusion within clutch game highlights.
And let’s not forget the viral moments and seemingly impossible trick shot that Messi has produced within the last few months of this campaign. These include a supposed hidden talent in ping pong, a bottle flip you wouldn’t even dare attempting, a #PepsiCanBalance trick that would make any magician proud, and one shot that has to be seen to be believed.
While this list boasts a who’s who of dynamic talent, the sheer numbers they carry are all the more impressive. These athletes combine for a whopping 360+ million social followers at their disposal. It’s no wonder that their achievements are all the more refreshing.