Soda Society

Beth Sewell

Western and Pepsi are going steady.

The exclusive relationship was made official this year, and as a sign of Pepsi’s commitment, Western’s logo will be featured along with UK and U of L on Aquafina bottles sold in Kentucky.

The new bottles will hit shelves and vending machines in about three months.

And this spring, Pepsi will release a special Western Pepsi can in Southcentral Kentucky.

The changes are only the beginning of what Auxiliary Services Director Rob Chrisler said is a great alliance. He said Pepsi has continued to dangle tasty contracts that keep the university loyal.

“They want to be big in this market because this is generally Coke territory,” Chrisler said.”… The rewards for having an exclusive contract outweigh having both (Coke and Pepsi).”

And now, Western’s choosing Pepsi for the next generation.

Pepsi officials recently signed a 10-year contract with Western that gives the soda company exclusive rights on the Hill. The contract also includes the option for two five-year renewals, meaning the relationship between Western and Pepsi could last 20 years or more.

In return for Western offering up more than 17,000 thirsty students, Pepsi has agreed to advertise the university on its products, as well as contribute funding to campus projects.

Chrisler said when the time came for Pepsi and Coca-Cola to vie for an exclusive contract, Pepsi offered a higher return rate to Dining Services and a number of marketing incentives.

Bernie Duraski, region manager for Pepsi, said having an exclusive contract with Western is preferable for his company because it increases sales, marketing opportunities and gives Pepsi the chance to contribute to Bowling Green.

“I think it’s important for us as a company to let the community know we’re willing to invest in the community, in Western and in the students,” Duraski said.

Pepsi’s contributions include the two new $500,000 scoreboards in Diddle Arena and a $3,000 project to paint Big Red waving a red towel on one Pepsi delivery truck yearly until the entire Southcentral Kentucky fleet dons Western’s mascot.

For Pepsi, having exclusive rights is huge. The company also owns exclusive soda-selling rights at U of L and UK.

“We’ve seen what happens when students have the choice between Pepsi and other products,” Duraski said. “And because of the access to Pepsi they’ve remained loyal when it comes time for them to choose.”

He said college students form their product habits within the first four years they live away from home. Because of this, the impressions and experiences they get from products are very important, he said.

That theory has played out this year in the Bate Shop. The store offers Pepsi and Coca-Cola products. According to statistics from Pepsi, 59 percent of soda products sold at the store were Pepsi while Coke claimed 41 percent.

The Bate Shop is the only location on campus where students have the option to buy Coca-Cola products. Chrisler said Western wanted to provide at least one place where “die-hard” Coke drinkers could get their fix. He said Pepsi was aware of the venture when it signed the contract with Western.

Bowling Green sophomore Carolyn Parker is thankful for the university’s decision to leave Coca-Cola products at the store. It’s the only place Parker feels like she has a choice.

She said with the dozens of Pepsi machines in dorms, buildings and cafeterias, the only refreshing thing is having a break from it.

“I don’t support Pepsi because Britney Spears supports Pepsi,” Parker said. “I know that having a contract with one vendor is important for the university and it does a lot of good, but not having a choice is the price we have to pay.”

Parker understands the benefits of the contract between Western and Pepsi. She said she isn’t bothered by the politics of it all, but she is looking forward to moving off campus and out of “Pepsi country” so she can stock her refrigerator full of Coke.

Richmond senior James Lee disagreed.

He said Pepsi is the better product. After three years of being an avid Wild Cherry Pepsi drinker, Lee is trying to quit his caffeine addiction while remaining loyal to Pepsi. He now drinks other Pepsi products like Dole and Aquafina.

“Exclusivity creates a lower need for competition so the prices can be lower,” Lee said. “Although I’m trying to quit the caffeine thing, Pepsi is without a doubt the best.”

Duraski and Pepsi officials are hoping four years will create more loyal consumers like Lee. They’re determined to let students in on the joy of Pepsi.

Reach Beth Sewell at [email protected]

New cola deal sweet for Western, Pepsi

Pepsi claimed the next generation on the Hill after recently signing a 10-year contract with Western. In return for a customer base that now numbers more than 17,000 students, staff and faculty, Pepsi will offer a number of incentives to Western.

*57 percent of the money from each Pepsi product sold from on-campus vending machines goes back to Western.

*Western received $360,000 from the sale of Pepsi from vending machines in 2002.

*$83,000 of that total profit went to Housing and Residence Life for in-hall programs. The majority of Pepsi vending machines at Western are located in dorms.

*$277,000 of the $360,000 was used to pay the mortgage on Downing University Center, run the ID Center and was used to fund other student activities.

*Pepsi gives $10,000 per year to Western for student scholarships.

*Students consume 40,000 cases of Pepsi per year. That is equal to 960,000 Pepsi products and 54 Pepsis per student, per year.

–Beth Sewell

SOURCE: WKU Dining Services and Pepsi