After A Century, Coke Inks New MSG Deal

MSG rendering

After more than a century of working together, Coca-Cola is sticking with Madison Square Garden, perhaps for another 100 years or so. 

The companies, which have cross-marketed since the very early 20th century, held a press conference at MSG on Tuesday with famed athletes like Walt Frazier and former welterweight champ Emile Griffith on hand to commemorate the past and predict another century together. The two are commemorating with a "100 Moments of Happiness" giveaway of event tickets, memorabilia and Coca-Cola products.

This time around, however, Coca-Cola and its brands get a range of programs well beyond the usual pouring-rights and sports promotions bedrock of such deals: In addition to being the corporate pour at the Garden, Theater at MSG, Radio City Music Hall, and the Beacon Theater, the Atlanta beverage giant will be on MSG entertainment and sports properties like Fuse,, MSG and MSG Plus. The company also gets to keep its category-exclusive sponsorship of the New York Knicks, Rangers, and Liberty, and gains "official partnership" status with college hoops at the Garden.



Scott O'Neil, president of Madison Square Garden Sports, said the upcoming renovation of the Garden is one of the keys to the new relationship with Coca-Cola. The company is the second to sign on as "signature" partner of the soon-to-be-new arena.

Coca-Cola, which follows Delta Airlines, will help design custom concession stands that will dot the landscape of the new venue (one of the interactive machines was on display at the Garden's press center, which has a display of photos and icons from the two brands' century-long relationship.) Delta, which signed on as signature partner earlier this year, will have a Delta Event Club at the new arena.

"This is part of our strategy of providing customized opportunities for sponsors," said O'Neil. "But the deal is far more significant than just the renovation."

On the Fuse network, the beverage company will have presenting sponsorship of national broadcast concert series "Fuse Presents."

Beatriz Perez, SVP of integrated marketing, who has been tapped to replace Katie Bayne as the company's CMO (Bayne will be president and GM of sparkling beverages in North America) said the deal gives the company an opportunity to give people an experience that benefits both the Garden's properties and Coca-Cola by bringing people back. "That's our goal."

Coca-Cola will also be official partner of the Absolut Concert Series at Madison Square Garden, as well as presenting sponsor of a similar program at the Beacon in New York, and of Radio City Music Hall and its Christmas program.

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