Soda Bowl: The Other Big Game in Atlanta

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Soda Bowl: The Other Big Game in Atlanta

Photo from @Pepsi on Twitter

While the eyes of the nation were on Atlanta this weekend for Super Bowl LII, another battle was taking place off-the-field for cola dominance. The hometown Coca-Cola Company faced fierce marketing competition from their biggest rival, Pepsi.  As an official sponsor of the NFL and Super Bowl LII, Pepsi was ready to give the residents of Atlanta a new soda to drink. The competition that took place may have ended up being more entertaining than the low scoring game that took place between the Rams and Patriots. 

Pepsi came out of the gates first with billboards that stated “Pepsi in Atlanta. How Refreshing” and “Look who’s in town for Super Bowl LII”. This message was plastered everywhere from bus stops to signs above Centennial Park. Along with these messages, Pepsi and other Pepsi Co. brands were hosting events across town such as concerts and the halftime show. Coca-Cola simply hosted a “Champions Chat” with Carl Banks and Joe Green at the World of Coke and greeted travelers at the airport with a simple sign that stated, “Welcome to our house”.

The biggest play of the weekend came when Pepsi brought a statue of their founder, Caleb Bradham, to share a drink with the iconic statue of Coca-Cola’s founder, John Pemberton, outside of the World of Coca-Cola. Pepsi tweeted out the photo using Coke’s hashtag of #TogetherIsBeautiful and called for a temporary #ColaTruce. Being initially caught off-guard, Coke responded with a simple message that stated “TogetherIsBeautiful always. Welcome to ATL!”. 

Coca-Cola’s response to Pepsi’s #ColaTruce tweet.

When the Super Bowl kicked-off on Sunday evening, Pepsi was excited to sponsor the Halftime show and premiered a star-studded ad that seemingly admitted that people prefer a Coke. Despite their best efforts to change the soda preferences of Atlanta, it was Coca-Cola that was enjoyed by thousands of fans as they are the official soft-drink vendor of Mercedes-Benz Stadium. 

Pepsi attempted to come down south and get people to turn away from a true southern classic, but their efforts went bit flat. The New York based company may have enjoyed their short trip to Atlanta, but Coca-Cola may be able to get some revenge on an even bigger stage. As the official sponsor of the 2026 World Cup, Coca-Cola will be happy to hear that the final match is rumored to take place in New York’s own MetLife Stadium. 


Lawton Geiger

Lawton Geiger

February 7, 2019at 5:20 pm

This is interesting. I didn’t really realize that Pepsi was going after coke in this super bowl. A massive event such as the super bowl would be a great platform to engage consumers in the city of Atlanta, and the fact that Pepsi was the sponsor was very interesting.

Rachel Wolfson

Rachel Wolfson

February 9, 2019at 8:02 am

We discussed Pepsi’s sponsorship of Super Bowl LII in my Consumer Buyer behavior class this week! We talked about how the company culture of Pepsi tends to be more confrontational than Coke’s, as Coke typically doesn’t instigate drama with Pepsi. Coke tends to be the leader of the market share, so they don’t feel the need to compete directly with Pepsi through advertising. Coke takes on a “togetherness” stance and focuses on their message, rather than use it to show they are better than Pepsi. Having a competitor enter into your hometown can’t be easy, but did Pepsi’s advertising really have an effect on Atlanta consumers? It’s hard to say, because some people said that they were more open to trying Pepsi, but does trying necessarily mean that these consumers will switch their preference from Coke to Pepsi? One weekend is probably not enough to permanently change consumer attitudes. Consumer preference is complicated and there are many factors involved, but consumer loyalty is hard to break. That being said, we may not know what the ultimate goal of Pepsi was this past weekend, but I do think that the tactics employed by Pepsi in Atlanta were humorous and got people talking! Nothing wrong with a little publicity, right?

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