Coca-Cola is threatening to withdraw its four-year sponsorship deal with the Notting Hill
Carnival, after rival PepsiCo upstaged it by giving away thousands of free drinks at the event.
Coke is thought to have paid about 200,000 to make its Lilt brand the main sponsor of the Carnival event. Under the exclusive deal, Coke was given a series of sampling stalls and it was agreed that only Coke brands would be sold at the event.
However, Pepsi upstaged Coke with a 7,000 float which was entered for the Carnival before the Lilt deal was signed. The float consisted of an open top Rolls Royce, filled to the brim with cans of Liptonice – the iced tea brand sold jointly by Britvic and Pepsi. The Rolls was accompanied by a team of out-of-work actors who gave away more than 50,000 free cans of Liptonice to the crowds.
Although Pepsi was asked to stop by Notting Hill organisers, it carried on with its stunt throughout the event, angering Coke which is now in talks with the organisers.
“Lilt had an exclusive this year on soft drinks sold at the carnival and we came to an agreement over what other people could and could not do,” says Claire Holder, chairperson of Notting Hill Carnival. She says it is “questionable” whether Pepsi stuck to the rules and confirms talks are now taking place about the future of the Lilt