Internal Email Shows Budweiser and Pepsi Have Teamed Up In War Against Coca-Cola

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PepsiCo and InBev Anheuser-Busch have doubled down on a joint pact to promote Bud Light, Pepsi and Doritos in tandem ahead of the Super Bowl.

It won't be good for Coca-Cola.

The Bud/Pepsi products will be piled together, with signage, in supermarkets as a sort of single-stop for Big Game party hosts. Beer, chips, Pepsi ... no need for Coke. The campaign will carry the tagline, "Super Bowl. Super Team. Super Party."

Bud Light is the biggest beer brand on the planet. Doritos has long dominated the chip business. Pepsi, however, is the No.3 cola in the U.S. after Coke and Diet Coke — so the pact is clearly of most benefit for Pepsi. (PepsiCo's troubled soda beverage division needs all the help it can get, so this looks like a super-smart move on the company's part.)

Ad Age obtained an email describing the anti-Coke effort:

In an internal memo sent by A-B InBev to distributors that was obtained by Ad Age, the brewer refers to the program as a "National Big Bet." The memo also shows a "save up to $8" coupon next to images of Bud Light, Doritos and Pepsi (with a mail-in rebate). "We have always worked with cross-merchandising partners in the past, but for 2013...all three [brands -- Doritos, Pepsi and Bud Light] are trying to work together to have flawless execution at retail," an A-B InBev distributor told Ad Age. He noted that the arrangement requires coordination between three sales and delivery teams.

The alliance actually dates back several years. The pair got together in 2010 in an attempt to pool their media buying budgets and thus wring savings out of media vendors by buying in bulk. It's had mixed results.

Both companies will be challenging Coke during the Super Bowl, too.

Anheuser will launch a new Budweiser brand, Black Crown, during the game. Bud Light will also run spots. And Doritos is staging its usual crowd-sourced ad competition. Coke still has three commercials during the final.



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