Super Bowl cola wars: Pepsi statue offers truce in Coke country

PepsiCo, in a surprise marketing stunt tied to this weekend’s Big Game, briefly placed a statue of its founder Caleb Bradham beside a life-size bronze statue of Coca-Cola founder John Pemberton, located outside the World of Coca-Cola in downtown Atlanta. The spot is near where Super Bowl pre-game activities are taking place, ground zero for dueling marketing by the ferociously competitive cola brands.

In a quick, stealth photo shoot, Pepsi made it appear the statues were about to clink glasses of their respective colas.

Pepsi tweeted “Hey @CocaCola thanks for being such gracious hosts for #SBLIII this week. We agree #TogetherIsBeautiful so we’d like to get our founders together for a celebratory cheers to declare a temporary #ColaTruce for the day. See you at @WorldofCocaCola soon!”

Coke, which hadn’t been given advanced notice, apparently played along with its archrival.

“We are going to welcome them with a Coke and a smile,” Coca-Cola spokeswoman Kate Hartman said.

By then the statue had been taken away. On a return run, Pepsi apparently felt like it got the cold shoulder. It tweeted: “Hey @CocaCola we swung by but it looks like you weren’t into having us over today…that doesn’t feel very #TogetherIsBeautiful.”

The hashtag is a reference to a new Coke TV commercial highlighting different animated people coming together. It is slated to air just before Sunday’s game.

New York-based PepsiCo is an official Super Bowl sponsor; Atlanta-based Coke isn’t. In recent weeks Pepsi unleashed a blue wave of advertising in Coke’s Big Red hometown. Coke responded with a football-themed exhibit at the World of Coca-Cola, plans to light up its nearby headquarters in red and funding for free admission for a month at the nearby National Center for Civil and Human Rights.

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