KHL makes major step forward, announces PepsiCo deal

Pepsi / Wikimedia Commons Pepsi / Wikimedia Commons

The Kontinental Hockey League announced the cooperation with the American food and beverage giant, PepsiCo and signed a one year agreement for the 2013-14 season.

PepsiCo was formed in 1965 with the merger of the Pepsi-Cola Company and Frito-Lay, Inc. Since then, the company has expanded from its brand product Pepsi to a broader range of food and beverage brands. In 2001, PepsiCo added Gatorade, a sports drink made popular by big name athletes, to its product portfolio. With its product lines, the company generated retail sales of more than $1 billion dollars each as PepsiCo's products found their way to more than 200 countries worldwide and annually exceeding $60 billion in revenue.

In recent years, the KHL has already made great strides in giving a league a truly international flavor, from the induction of the Latin script on jerseys to making its website equally accessible in English. Partnering with a US-based company like PepsiCo is another major step in making that transition.

KHL Commerce and Communications VP, Ilya Kochevrin, was quoted saying:

“The most important factor for us is that the market recognizes the KHL brand as a beneficial and attractive partner. Cooperation with PepsiCo, is an opportunity for us to show that the KHL attracts world-famous brands.”

The financial importance of this deal is obvious, but the commercial impact behind an American brand taking on a hockey partnership with a league other than the NHL, a league that is basically threatening NHL's status as the No1 hockey league in the world, has to feel slightly worrisome to Gary Bettman, commissioner of the National Hockey League.

This rings especially true when that league, formerly a heaven for Soviet defectors and later a lime-light for superstars such as Alexander Ovechkin, now has trouble attracting young, already drafted Russian starts such as Evgeny Kuznetsov (who still has reservations about making the transition to the NHL) and is losing prominent players on lucrative NHL contracts, such as Ilya Kovalchuk.

One thing is certain, as with the Kovalchuk NHL retirement and following SKA contract, the hockey landscape is continuing to change, more and more in KHL's favor.

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