YSU Switches From Coke to Pepsi

The food court fountain machines are among the first Pepsi stocked machines to arrive on campus.
The food court fountain machines are among the first Pepsi stocked machines to arrive on campus.
The food court fountain machines are among the first Pepsi stocked machines to arrive on campus.

After carrying Coca-Cola products for two decades, Youngstown State University will be switching over to Pepsi products starting July 1st.

YSU’s new agreement with Pepsi will begin at the end of Coca-Cola’s ten-year contract on June 30th. Remaining Coca-Cola inventory will still be sold while available.

“We had a great partnership with Coke for 20 years. But now we’re going in a different direction, and we’re sure Pepsi will be great partners as well,” said Matt Novotny, executive director of student services.

Many schools, sports teams and organizations offer exclusive pouring and sponsorship rights to beverage companies, and the turnover of rights from one company to another is common. As YSU neared the end of Coca-Cola’s 2004 pouring rights agreement, YSU issued a request for proposals, during which Coke and Pepsi competed to win the contract for YSU’s sole beverage provider.

“We got the proposals, we evaluated them, and essentially we just picked the best deal. Coke had a lot of good things to offer, and they’re a great partner, but Pepsi just had a little sharper offer,” Novotny said. Concerning the transition process, he said, “AVI is the largest vending company in America and they do good work so I’m sure we’ll have no problem replacing all the Coke machines and coolers with Pepsi counterparts by the fall.”

Pepsi’s new contract with YSU will not just replace vending machines and coolers, but will see Pepsi products poured in the Kilcawley and Resident Hall food courts, Wendy’s, and any other beverage provider on campus.

Beyond pouring rights, Pepsi now will act as a sponsor for YSU, contributing money both to Student Activities and the Athletics Department. This enables Pepsi products to be featured in advertisements and marketing for YSU, which includes the popular Gatorade sports drink for use in athletics promotion.

“We need to market Youngstown State, and Pepsi is a good company. We really feel good we’ll be able to get the YSU block Y out there more with the Pepsi partnership,” Novotny said.

Though Pepsi’s marketing ideas were a major player in the decision to switch, the deciding factor was decided by competing beverage’s sales numbers.

“Pepsi sells more in this area. I mean I’m sure you can ask around to a group of fifty people and get a near fifty-fifty split, but the market research shows people in the Youngstown area prefer Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Gatorade, etc. to their Coke counterparts, and that’s a powerful deciding force,” Novotny said.

Though many on campus will mourn the loss of their beloved Coke products while the other half rejoices at the opportunity to buy Mountain Dew at the Food Court, Novotny is excited for the agreement regardless of taste.

“We’re excited; we really are. Coke was a great partner, and I can’t say enough good about them, but Pepsi is a great, youthful company, and they’ve got some really exciting ideas for their involvement with campus. I think it’ll be great.”

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