PepsiCo’s new Starry brand named official soft drink of NBA, WNBA

    • PepsiCo’s new Starry beverage brand has been named the official soft drink of the NBA, WNBA and NBA G League in North America, according to a news release
    • The partnership will be introduced during the NBA All-Star 2023 weekend later in February through advertisements and on-site activations. The lemon-lime soda is serving as title sponsor for the NBA All-Star 3-Point Contest, which this year includes a new shot contest with a dedicated Starry Range and custom Wilson basketballs.
    • Starry will also have a presence at the NBA Crossover fan event through its work with players, a separate shooting challenge and sampling of regular and zero-sugar variants. PepsiCo is putting heavy marketing muscle behind the beverage as it looks to get an edge on rival Sprite and win over Gen Z consumers.

    Starry only started hitting shelves a few weeks ago, but it’s already become a major component of parent PepsiCo’s sports-marketing strategy. The new sponsorship deal with the NBA, WNBA and NBA G League builds on PepsiCo’s existing relationship with basketball and speaks to a shared desire between the organizations to connect with a younger generation of fans. 

    Starry is positioned as a “purpose-driven brand built for Generation Z” in promotional materials and emphasizes themes like fun and sustainability. The lemon-lime offering is primed to replace laggard Sierra Mist in PepsiCo’s portfolio and vies to be a more formidable competitor against Coke’s Sprite.

    PepsiCo became the official food and beverage partner of professional basketball back in 2015 as part of an agreement that encompasses Aquafina, Brisk, Doritos, Gatorade and Ruffles. But Mtn Dew has been the focus on the soft drink front, with Starry now stepping up to offer a “fresh perspective” and enhance fan and game experiences, according to executives. 

    “It has an attitude that embraces the irreverent optimism of our consumers and basketball fans alike,” said Michael Smith, senior director of brand marketing at Starry, in a statement. 

    PepsiCo is leveraging the NBA All-Star 2023 bonanza that runs Feb. 17-19 in Salt Lake City, Utah, to familiarize the public with Starry and strengthen an association with basketball. Along with events like the Starry 3-Point Contest and NBA Crossover, the soft drink offering will air a new commercial starring “notable talent” and surprise guests during the weekend, though specific names weren’t shared. 

    Starry’s official list of athlete spokespeople includes Zion Williamson, Zach LaVine and Klay Thompson from the NBA, along with WNBA star A’ja Wilson. Starry is additionally acting as presenting sponsor for the WNBA All-Star 3-Point Contest and supporting the women’s league’s WNBA Live fan festival. 


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