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PepsiCo Shift: Big Leagues to Women's, College Sports

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PepsiCo Inc.’s Gatorade is dropping its National Hockey League sponsorship to focus on women’s sports and college athlete deals, its global head of sports marketing Jeff Kearney said in a LinkedIn post, as reported by Bloomberg.

Gatorade signed a five-year deal with the NHL in 2018.

“For us, the future of sport means continuing to invest in young and diverse athlete communities, cutting-edge leagues, and embracing all athletic journeys,” he wrote. He cited the brand's endorsement deals with college athletes Paige Bueckers and Shedeur Sanders and its work with leagues such as Overtime Elite, which claims to offer talented basketball players a path to the NBA.. “We’re already seeing the impact it makes, and there’s a lot more to come.”

As reported by Bloomberg's Martine Parris, name, image and likeness deals for college athletes have drawn increasing interest from brands since last July, when the NCAA lifted most of its rules barring students from earning financial compensation from sponsorship and endorsement deals.

On May 24, PepsiCo announced that it renewed its multiyear National Football League partnership for its Pepsi, Gatorade and Frito-Lay brands, but it will no longer sponsor the Super Bowl halftime show. “After ten years,” the Pepsi brand tweeted, “it’s time to pass the mic.” 

According to SportsPro, Gatorade products have been a familiar site on the sidelines in many U.S. sports leagues, and the company still holds deals with the NFL, NBA and MLB.

"Having spent many years being synonymous with some of North America’s biggest sports properties, this could be a sign that Gatorade is now intent on shifting its strategy towards areas with high growth potential in an attempt to reach new audiences," SportsPro reported.

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