Pepsi courts UK football teams sporting blue kit…

PepsiCo is considering UK football sponsorship deals, targeting Premier League teams in Scotland and England wearing blue kits, as part of its worldwide launch of the drink in a blue can.

The prime target has been Glasgow Rangers, which confirms it has had discussions with Pepsi about a sponsorship deal. However, a spokesman for the team says the deal with PepsiCo fell through and he was unsure whether the drinks giant is planning further involvement in the sport. He denies that Pepsi is a possible sponsor for its shirt deal, currently held by Scottish Courage’s McEwan’s lager.

However, sources close to Scottish Courage believe it is likely that the brewer will pull out of the Rangers’ sponsorship as part of a brand rationalisation.

The company, formed from the merger of Courage with Scottish & Newcastle, is reviewing its marketing budgets for brands such as McEwan’s – focusing instead on big national brands like Foster’s lager and John Smith’s ale (MW February 9).

“Tennents lager has always upstaged McEwan’s and with Foster’s being put into all the Scottish pubs -it’s the death knell for McEwan’s,” says one industry source.

Scottish Courage denies that it is pulling its sponsorship from Glasgow Rangers, and asserts it will honour its contract with the club until the end of the century. McEwan’s is also the shirt sponsor for the English Premier League side Blackburn Rovers.

Meanwhile, a Pepsi spokeswoman says the attempt to dovetail a Rangers deal with the launch of the blue can, and the publication of a blue Daily Mirror (MW March 29) failed.

Pepsi’s involvement in football is confined to signage and pouring deals with individual clubs. But the spokeswoman says the talks with Rangers should not be considered as a riposte to the Coca-Cola Cup tournament. Coke also has a deal with Wembley Stadium and is the official carbonated drinks sponsor of Euro 96.

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