All Blacks drop Coca-Cola sponsorship, sign deal with Pepsi

 Pepsi's Gatorade new All Black drink.

UPDATEDThe New Zealand Rugby Union has ended a two-decade long commercial relationship with Coca-Cola by signing a deal with Pepsi.

The new five-year partnership will link the All Blacks with Gatorade, rather than Coca-Cola-owned Powerade.

The NZRU first signed a sponsorship deal with Coca-Cola in 1995, and it was last renewed in 2012.

No financial details of the Pepsi deal have been released, but the NZRU's most recent set of accounts for 2014 show it had commercial income of just over $87 million, just under 75% of its total income of $121 million dollars.

NZRU chief executive Steve Tew says the rugby union "was looking for an instantly recognisable, global brand with the scale to help us increase the profile of the New Zealand game and our teams overseas so a partnership with Gatorade made sense on many levels."

The rugby union's relationship with Coca-Cola had been controversial in recent years. In 2014 campaigners against sugary drinks described the sponsorship as inappropriate and an embarrassment, although the deal was defended by Coca-Cola and the NZRU.

Coca-Cola launched a 50,000 limited edition 440ml can emblazoned with the All-Blacks shirt last November, to mark victory in the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England.

In New Zealand, Gatorade is made and marketed by Suntory-owned Frucor Beverages in South Auckland.

In a statement, Coca-Cola said it had been a "long standing" partner of the All Blacks. The company said "our current contract with the All Blacks expired in December 2015 and we did not renew the contract. We will however continue our support of New Zealand sport through a number of our sports sponsorships. We wish the All Blacks all the best for the future."

(BusinessDesk)

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