The New York Mets may have lost the 2015 World Series, but the ball club just won a new marketing partner in Coca-Cola. The Mets on Monday announced a deal with Coca-Cola that supplants its longstanding arrangement with Pepsi, whose name has loomed over right field at the Mets' new stadium since its inaugural 2009 season.
Contract renewal discussions with Pepsi began back in May 2014 but began to lose momentum earlier this year, according to the Mets. "In April, we reached out to an old friend at Coca Cola," said Lou De Paoli, exec VP-chief revenue officer for the New York Mets, referring to John Cordova, director of sports transaction management at the Coca-Cola Company. The two had worked together when Mr. De Paoli served in executive positions for the Miami Marlins, the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the National Basketball Association.
"We had a quick conversation over lunch and it picked up momentum," he said.
"The key here is that Coke came here with such an aggressive marketing and activation plan," said Mr. Mr. De Paoli. "The whole goal here was to really activate that partnership in the marketplace."
Although some details were not disclosed, the contract appears to be more focused on co-branding and cross-promotion than the Mets' deal with Pepsi. Bottles of Coca-Cola honoring the team's National League championship will hit store shelves in March, just in time for spring training -- and presumably, the removal of the massive Pepsi logo adorning Citi Field's Pepsi Porch.
"We will be obviously featured as a product at Citi Field going forward," said Mr. Cordova, who said part of the marketing plan Coca-Cola will craft with the Mets will entail giveaways of around 40,000 game tickets. "We are going to put every one of those in the hands of fans."
Coca-Cola began emphasizing its relationship with Major League Baseball after the '94 season was cut short by a players' strike. At the time, the company conducted research to learn more about baseball fans and their connection to the game. "They all talked about the ballpark experience…. The Cokes taste better, the hot dogs taste better," Mr. Cordova said.
The deal with the Mets brings Coca-Cola's partnerships with MLB teams to 16, just more than the half the league. Ten miles north in the Bronx, Pepsi is the official soft drink of the Yankees.
The start of the 2015 season looked more grim from a sponsorship standpoint for the Mets, as the team suffered from the bankruptcy of Caesar's, another original sponsor at Citi Field. Drugstore chain Duane Reade and Xerox had also ended their sponsorships.
Mr. De Paoli said the team is renewing contracts with other partners, but declined to elaborate.