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Coca-Cola gatecrashes Pepsi-sponsored Hungarian festival

Published on .

BUDAPEST -- A cola promo skirmish broke out in Budapest when Coca-Cola set up a Cherry Coke sampling at a MOL petrol station 100m from the entrance to Pepsi Sziget. Pepsi-Cola was the official sponsor of the Woodstock-style music festival on a Danube River island that attracted about 200,000 people for a week in late August.

Coca-Cola denies it set up a beachhead at the venue's entrance, saying the sampling was not planned to coincide with the Pepsi-sponsored event. "MOL is a large client of ours," says Coca-Cola's external affairs manager Nora Horvath. The one-day sampling was part of a Cherry Coke campaign at MOL stations throughout Hungary, she adds.

Pepsi Sziget organizers are not convinced that Coca-Cola's promotion was coincidental, since Coca-Cola agents also showed up on the island with promotional giveaways including T-shirts, balls and free soft drinks. Pepsi-Cola paid an undisclosed but significant amount of money to ensure that "only Pepsi products and Pepsi advertisements" appeared on the island, says Pepsi Sziget organizer Karoly Gerendai.

Copyright September 1996, Crain Communications Inc.

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