Deion Sanders and Jackson State suffered a loss on Saturday, but they just helped the school’s conference secure a big win off the field.
Pepsi and the SWAC have reached an agreement that will make the soft drink company the official beverage sponsor for basketball and football championship games. It’s a three-year deal and a part of the company’s initiative titled “Racial Equity Journey.”
“We’ve been in a relationship for a long time,” Sanders told USA TODAY Sports, regarding his connection with Pepsi. “And this just takes it to a whole ‘nother level. Back in the 1990s, like every year, it’s been about me. But now it’s not just about me. It’s about us. And that’s a beautiful thing, man. I love it.”
“Sports are integral to Pepsi’s DNA, and we’re honored to join the SWAC family as main beverage partners,” said Derek Lewis, President, South Division, PepsiCo Beverages North America. “As an HBCU graduate myself, I am proud to help foster growth among these students to prime them for success – and to bring fans and consumers incredible experiences and memories.”
Pepsi’s sponsorship of the SWAC represents a substantial increase in market share for the brand in a region previously held by a competitor. Signage and naming highlights included in PBNA’s corporate and presenting sponsorship of the 2020 – 2023 SWAC Football Championship, as well as the 2020 – 2023 Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournament, include a comprehensive suite of brand opportunities: exclusivity across beverage categories; logo displays on fields’ 50-yard lines; analog and digital logo displays; PA mentions; cable and digital media advertising; local TV and radio; and more. Additional assets allocated to PBNA in the partnership include extensive in-market promotional and fan activation opportunities – such as the right to conduct market-wide sweepstakes each year.
“We would like to extend a warm welcome to PepsiCo Beverages North America from the Southwestern Athletic Conference and its ten member institutions,” SWAC Commissioner Dr. Charles McClelland said in a release. “PepsiCo is a brand that is synonymous with a high level of quality. PepsiCo is also synonymous with helping our communities and through this partnership we’re extremely excited to put these two iconic brands together.”
Jackson State Director of Athletics Ashley Robinson told USA Today that the deal would not have happened without Deion Sanders.
“There’s a lot of things that have happened since we hired Coach Sanders,” he said.
McClelland harped on the deal’s clause that will ensure that a student-athlete gets hired by the company.
“This partnership is significant for the SWAC in a variety of ways, but one of the primary aspects of it that we’re most excited about is the expanded opportunities our students and student-athletes will have moving forward through internships and potential permanent employment,” he said. “Aside from clearly serving as a catalyst towards advancing the brands of both entities, this relationship will also allow us a unique opportunity to significantly advance the personal brands of our student-athletes and their ability to make all of their career and professional development dreams come true.”