UI pop placement
November 30, 2015
“There will be customers that don’t recognize that we do carry Pepsi cans and they immediately ask, ‘Do you have any Pepsi here?’” student supervisor at the Quad Shop Kristopher Long said. “We just have the small cans at the bottom of the very last section of our cooler, so it’s hard to notice right away.”
The lack of Pepsi products on campus is due to an exclusive contract the University has with Coca-Cola.
According to Forbes Magazine, the Coca-Cola brand is estimated to be worth $56 billion, making it the fourth most valuable brand in the world. Aside from soft drinks, this empire also encompasses various products that most consumers aren’t aware are under the Coke banner. According to their website, Coca-Cola owns other non-soda products like Dasani, Monster and Honest Tea.
“I drink Coke,” said Monica Hamada, junior in Global Studies. “That was just always the drink we had in my house.”
Hamada’s drink of choice stayed the same into her college life. Coca-Cola products can be seen everywhere around campus. This is due to Coke’s partnership with the University, which began in the 1990s, said Kevin Morris, vice president of public affairs and communications at Coca-Cola.
Coca-Cola is the official beverage provider to the University, said Michael DeLorenzo, associate chancellor Michael DeLorenzo said. The agreement only allows for select places, such as the Quad Shop in the Illini Union, to carry beverages other than Coca-Cola.
The most recent contract with the University was signed five years ago but is due to expire in 2019. Although DeLorenzo believes Coke will rebid for their current position, he expects other beverage companies to join in the bidding process.
“When we consider everything that’s responding to the bid we look at the best that can provide services to students and staff and faculty, sponsorship programs and those types of things,” DeLorenzo said. “At the time, Coke won that bid for the process. When we rebid we’ll be open to anybody else that wants to try. I would suspect that, beyond Pepsi, that other companies might band together and try it. That’s a changing industry, so I would suspect, but I’m not sure.”
Coke and Pepsi have both been contenders for the official beverage distributors of the University. In the past, student opposition protested Coca-Cola’s agreement with the University.
According to their website, the Coalition Against Coke Contracts (CACC) formed in Champaign-Urbana in 2005 in order to combat Coke’s presence on campus. They cited Coke’s numerous involvements in human rights violations as a reason for their distain.
“That was probably seven or eight years ago, it was before I was involved,” DeLorenzo said. “There was a committee that reviewed that (Coca-Cola Co.), and Coke internationally changed the way they did business in third world countries and also other social responsibility initiatives, so Coke really took upon itself to change its business practices and they did that. To my knowledge, that is not an issue anymore.”
The CACC almost achieved their goals for a Coke-free campus when a 2007 deal with Pepsico made Pepsi the official drink distributor of Illinois state entities. However, that contract was abandoned when Pepsi was unable to deliver as promised.
“Pepsi won that contract, but when they started working with individual units there was concern whether they could meet the requirements of the contract,” DeLorenzo said. “It was the same time that there was a change in the governorship in the state of Illinois. They decided that, ‘Well, state entities can go out on their own, do their own bids.’”
DeLorenzo said there are currently no student protests against Coca-Cola. A rebid made Coca-Cola the official provider again in 2010. Although he is uncertain when the University will reopen the bid for their beverage provider, he believes it will occur in the next few years.
“If I have it in my mind that I want to drink soda, I think I grab Coke,” sophomore in aerospace engineering Shree Das said. “Just the plain one, none of the variants, just classic Coke.”