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LeBron James signs endorsement deal with PepsiCo, following his 17-year partnership with Coca-Cola

By: Natalie Downey


LeBron James has officially left his partnership with Coca-Cola and has moved on to sign an endorsement deal with PepsiCo.


James has been working with Coca-Cola since he signed at 18 years old. During his time with the company, he appeared in many commercials and helped market products like Sprite and Powerade. In September, the company and James mutually agreed to part ways as a result of budget cuts relating to the pandemic. James will now be joining athletes like Zion Williamson and Joel Embiid at PepsiCo.


On SportsPro’s list of the worlds 50 most marketable athletes in 2020, LeBron James is ranked third. He has been given the nickname “King of Marketing”, and for good reason. He is said to be worth $500 million and is expected to earn $428 million by 2023 from the NBA. A significant chunk of this money comes from his endorsements and his lifetime Nike deal, which could end up being worth $1 billion. He also has endorsements with Baskin Robbins, Samsung, McDonald’s, Microsoft, and many others.


His partnership with PepsiCo seemed destined to happen, considering PepsiCo replaced Coca-Cola as the official food and beverage partner of the NBA and WNBA in 2015. There is little information known about the partnership between PepsiCo and LeBron James, but we do know that it is a multiyear partnership starting with his endorsement of their new energy drink, Mountain Dew Rise. There is definitely potential for LeBron to move to other categories like their snacks or Gatorade.


The energy drink space is already very crowded, but James is hoping he can put this drink on the map. In last year alone, energy drinks generated $14.15 billion in retail sales, and it is still growing significantly. The current industry leader is Monster Energy, which is distributed by Coke. PepsiCo isn’t new to the industry, as they acquired Rockstar Energy in March 2020. They are confident that James can help market this new product.


The commercial for the drink will air throughout the NBA playoffs. Rise contains roughly the same amount of caffeine as two cups of coffee, is packed with vitamins, and has zero grams of added sugar. These stats should be appealing to customers, who have grown to be more health conscious.


Because of these changes in the customer base, PepsiCo and other competitors must make the necessary changes. The use of LeBron James in the marketing of this new drink is evidence that PepsiCo is trying to make a change to please their customers. This partnership is definitely mutually beneficial for both PepsiCo and LeBron James, and I can see it lasting a long time.



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