GW signs Coke as campus drink

The University’s choice of a new generation is in, and Coca-Cola is the selection.

University officials recently signed a five-year contract with the Maryland-based bottling company that will replace Pepsi as the official soft drink of GW. The agreement ends a seven-year partnership with Pepsi.

So out goes Pepsi, 7-UP, and Mountain Dew and in comes Coke, Sprite, and Surge.

Since the switch, I have not heard one single negative complaint, said Nancy Haaga, director of Auxiliary and Institutional Services, which oversees University contracts.

The transition began August 1, and by August 18, workers replaced almost every Pepsi machine with a Coke machine. Haaga said the transition is currently 98 percent complete.

Haaga said there are about 125 Coke machines on campus, as well as 20 coolers located in the various places around campus, including the GW Bookstore and Provisions Market.

Former SA president Phil Meisner, who campaigned for a change in the University contract from Pepsi to Coca-Cola in March 1999, said he was excited when he saw the change.

I was moving my brother into Thurston and I was kind of reminiscing about my time at GW, Meisner said. I saw that they got new machines and when I realized what they were I said, `oh my God, they’re Coke machines.’

Meisner, who was impeached and removed from office last November, said he was happy that some of his ideas came to fruition. At least we got something out of the whole painful ordeal, Meisner said.

Students checking out the changes in J Street Saturday expressed excitement over the University’s new cola preference.

Junior Marcie Cohen, who spent the summer on Semester at Sea, recalled when she found out about the change. Cohen said a friend e-mailed her this summer with the news.

I ran around screaming, she said.

It feels funny buying something from Provisions (Market) that I actually want, said junior Bryan Kraft, who said he prefers Mr. Pibb, another Coca-Cola brand.

Coca-Cola also produces a brand of bottled water called Dasani, which is comparable with Pepsi’s Aquafina.

Some students said, however, that the water is not quite their choice because it contains purified water, as opposed to spring water.

They should have Poland Spring water for non-soda drinkers, sophomore Justin Borodinsky.

The University considered opportunities to raise money from a large corporation, Coke’s marketing strategies and student preferences in making the final decision, GW officials said.

We were looking for a company that would partner with the University and provide funding to help support programs and initiatives, Haaga said. We’re going to work with the (Coca-Cola) foundation to identify some initiatives that the two institutions can join together to do.

Haaga said the University was searching for a company that proposed an aggressive and exciting marketing program, which she said Coke provided.

The University signed a partnership with Pepsi in 1993. Prior to its arrangement, there was no exclusive arrangement, and both Pepsi and Coke were sold on campus.

Haaga said student input also played a role in the University’s decision.

It’s a business decision for the University, ultimately. They do take into account student input to a minor degree, Meisner said.

The Mount Vernon campus has served Coke in Ames Dining Hall during the past few years because Mount Vernon College did not have an exclusive contract.

Haaga said the latest contract groups the Mount Vernon campus with the rest of the University.

Coca-Cola is planning several kick-off activities, some during Welcome Week. Several promotions such as a hoagie-eating contest will take place in early October.

Although Haaga could not comment on the financial details of the contract, she said Coke will provide the University with royalty payments so it can fund its programs and initiatives. Also, it will specifically earmark some funding for athletics to change the Smith Center signage from Pepsi to Coke.

During the week of Sept. 11, representatives from Coke will recruit a campus marketing coordinator, who will work with the company in addressing any specific needs or marketing ideas for the GW campus.

Haaga said it would be a renewable internship, and Coke would most likely be looking for a freshman.

I’m sure (the University) got a better deal out of it and we got Coke, Meisner said. I’d like to think I had something to do with this, however small (it may be).

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