EA strikes global multi-year partnership with PepsiCo for EA Sports FC

Pepsi EA Sports FC partnership
(ESI Illustration) Image credit: EA Sports / PepsiCo

Food and beverage conglomerate PepsiCo has announced a new multi-year global partnership with EA Sports to position three of its flagship brands — Pepsi, Gatorade and Lay’s — as partners of EA’s upcoming EA Sports FC title.

The partnership aims to broaden audience reach and deepen fan engagement with the football fandom via the newly-independent EA game.

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EA and PepsiCo will collaborate on activations with Pepsi football ambassadors including Vini Jir and Leah Williamson. The deal will also feature in-game integrations, on-pack promotions, exclusive experiences and in-game rewards. Further details of upcoming activations will be revealed at a later date, but PepsiCo said it was keen on collaborating around competitive gaming with EA.

The drinks conglomerate, best known for its flagship soft drink Pepsi, said the partnership forms part of its overarching business strategy to deliver activations that unite the realms of football, music and gaming. It will also provide a platform to further collaborate on the existing PepsiCo initiatives of promoting participation and gender equality.

The global, multi-year deal — the exact length or terms was not disclosed — is the result of a “shared agenda,” PepsiCo’s Head of Global Sports and Partnerships, Adam Warner, told Esports Insider.

“We have somewhat of a crush on each other from a brand perspective,” Warner said. “There’s a very mutual opportunity here, we realised when we first sat down with [EA] properly 6-12 months ago, to broaden each other’s reach from an audience perspective.”

The partnership comes after EA’s acrimonious split with long-time partner FIFA for the eponymous FIFA video game series, as a result of which EA is moving forward under the new independent name EA Sports FC.

FIFA notably has a decades-old partnership with Pepsi rival Coca-Cola. With FIFA out the way, EA is free to broaden its horizons.

“Without getting into the details, there’d been some constraints on our ability to partner together,” Warner said. “But because of some of the very strategic and exciting choices that EA have made, [there’s an] opportunity for us to come together and do some great stuff together.”

With Pepsi’s weight behind it, EA will be confident going into the launch of the first EA Sports FC title, anticipated to be coming later this year.

Pepsi, for its part, is confident about driving both sales and brand awareness through the major sponsorship deal.

Warner told Esports Insider he thinks the partnership can both grow brand equity for Pepsi, Gatorade and Lay’s — which were chosen because they’re PepsiCo’s biggest global brands with established heritage and equity in the football space — and at the same time create momentum from a sales point of view.

“Anything we do at scale – and what we’re doing with EA going forward certainly falls into that bracket — they’ve always got to drive against both of those objectives,” he said.

Albeit gaming-focused, Pepsi’s major deal with EA Sports FC will be a boost for the industry at a time when some brands are reportedly sceptical of ROI in the competitive gaming space.

But Warner said he sees esports as one touch point in their broader gaming strategy — one that PepsiCo is confident in. “We see great scale and continued momentum in the gaming passion point,” he added. “It is a priority now and will continue to be a priority going forward.”

Jake Nordland
Jake has worked at Esports Insider as a journalist and editor since early 2021. Now ESI's Media Manager, he continues to act as lead editor of print magazine The Esports Journal, and contributes his words to the website from time to time.