Coca Cola’s two-decade-long sponsorship with one of rugby’s most marketable brands has come to an end after the All Blacks agreed a new deal with rival Pepsi.
The New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) signed a new five year partnership with Pepsi-owned brand, Gatorade, drawing to an end its sponsorship with Coca Cola’s Powerade which began in 1995.
Gatorade will become the official hydration partner of the 2015 World Cup winners as well as New Zealand’s other national teams - the Maori All Blacks, All Blacks Sevens, New Zealand Women’s Sevens, Black Ferns and New Zealand Under-20.
The partnership will also allow the teams access to the Gatorade Sports Science Institute (GSSI) in Illinois and Florida which is the company’s research facility designed to help athletes with hydration and nutrition science.
Steve Tew, chief executive of NZR, said the organisation was “looking for an instantly recognisable, global brand with the scale to help us increase the profile of the New Zealand game and our teams overseas so a partnership with Gatorade made sense on many levels.”
He added: “Gatorade is the perfect fit for a dynamic, endurance-based sport like rugby - the strength of the brand is backed by 50 years of science, research and development - and it's widely used by many of the world’s elite athletes and teams.”
Director of global brand management at Gatorade, Anuj Bhasin, said: “our goal is to support New Zealand’s rugby players and teams by providing the most scientifically researched and game-tested sports drink and top-quality athlete service to help improve on-field performances.”
Coca Cola's contract with the All Blacks expired in December 2015 and a spokesperson confirmed to The Drum that it decided "not renew the contract."
The spokesperon added: "We will however continue our support of New Zealand sport through a number of our sports sponsorships."
Coca Cola’s relationship with the (NZRU) has been somewhat tremulous in recent years given the negative publicity the drinks giant has faced over the levels of sugar in its drinks. In 2014 campaigners against sugary drinks described the sponsorship as inappropriate and an embarrassment, although the deal was defended by Coca-Cola and the NZRU.
In response to the controversay over its sugary drinks Coca Cola has revamped its global advertising strategy in an attempt to enforce its commitment to help control over consumption of sugar.