Coke dominates GW’s soda scene

Senior Rebecca Klor works for Mountain Dew, a tough gig on a Coke campus.

Klor, who is a marketing manager for the soda company, said she is unable to advertise her product because of an exclusivity agreement between the University and Coca-Cola.

The agreement began seven years ago and applies to all buildings on the GW campus, said Nancy Haaga, director of Campus Support Services. It gives Coke exclusive rights at all University venues – including vending machines.

“Beverage companies not affiliated with Coca-Cola are not permitted to market, promote or vend beverage products on GW’s campuses,” Haaga wrote in an e-mail.

She added that the University signed with Coke because they provide the most “beneficial and favorable terms.” In return, Coke donates money to the University to support student scholarships, marketing and GWorld readers around campus.

The University has wavered between Coke and Pepsi in past decades, and the current contract expires in 2012.

Klor’s job is to promote a soda brand owned by the Pepsi-Cola Company, and the agreement means she is limited in the ways she can perform her job.

“We do promotions and basically just want to create a scene on campus,” Klor said, “But because GW is a Coke campus we can’t do anything.”

Klor was initially hired by RepNation, a marketing agency conducting an advertising campaign for Mountain Dew – called Dew DIY – on 50 campuses across the United States.

Dew DIY is a competition where students can submit artistic creations featuring the Mountain Dew brand.

“The idea is basically that there are Mountain Dew enthusiasts out there already creating these items,” said Tanya Leis, associate manager of brand engagement at RepNation. “What Mountain Dew has done is created an environment for these items to be housed, collected in one place and be rewarded for quality work.”

Leis added that soda agreements are not uncommon and she encourages her employees to work around the strict rules. She added she knew about GW’s agreement.

“We were told in advance that for George Washington, we could not be executing this promotion on that campus the way it could on a campus that doesn’t have ties to a competing brand,” Leis said.

Klor said she and her partner, sophomore Dan Sutter, have been asking friends and other student organizations for help getting 15 submissions to the RepNation competition. She added that she feels uncomfortable advertising publicly.

Klor said, “I feel like we’ve been walking on eggehells here at GW because I don’t know what we’re allowed to do.”

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