Over winter break, Elizabethtown College Dining Services chose to end its contract with Coca-Cola and began a deal with PepsiCo to provide the Jay’s Nest and campus vending machines with soft beverages.
After working with Coke for the last 16 years, Dining Services director Eric C. Turzai felt that a switch in vending companies was necessary when Coke proposed a contract renewal at the end of its current business agreement that the College found unacceptable. “There’s really not a whole lot to this situation,” Tuzai said. “[It was] strictly a matter of wording in it.”
The extensive and long-term relationship with Coke was beyond the expectations of the College. Some members of staff felt that the contract was an example of manipulative marketing, merchandizing and exclusive rights that would have resulted in an unreasonable partnership.
Turzai said that Coke’s legal team offered no compromise, so he chose to pursue a deal with Pepsi for vending. The company was “glad to partner with Etown,” Turzai said. “They’ve got some good things in their contract that are beneficial not only to the administration but also the students. I’m hearing for the most part positive things.”
Jay’s Nest employees Abbie Bower, a senior, and Liz Klapper, a junior, have observed the opposite reaction about the change. “It’s been predominantly negative,” Bower said.
A brief survey of students in the Blue Bean, Body Shop and Jay’s Nest the night of Jan. 27 provided a common response of disapproval, as well. While the majority of the students spoken to, including first-years Justine Itterly and Kendra Downey, do not drink soda, several felt disadvantaged by the change, as they prefer Coke.
“I’m really a Coke person so I’m a little disappointed,” senior business administration major Bryce Kenner said. Three people in a line of four at the Jay’s Nest agreed that Coke was their soda of choice.
The new agreement with Pepsi demands the Jay’s Nest to dedicate a certain amount of cooler space to Pepsi products but not all of it. To satisfy the desires of Coke-loyal students, the College will not do away completely with the company’s products.
Additionally, the fountain beverages in the Marketplace are under a separate contract for the next several years, so Coke will still be offered there. “Coke is not going away,” Tuzai said. “They will always have representation, but volume-wise it will be smaller.”
One benefit of Pepsi’s dominance on campus in terms of bottled beverages is the Starbucks and tea giveaways they have hosted. Their sponsorship has been received positively, with Etown students making the Starbucks event last week the “best attended they’ve ever had” on a college campus, according to Turzai.
“I like the fact that Pepsi brought to the table a lot more different brands than Coke does,” he said.
First-year Justin Shurr counted the variety of Pepsi products as a positive aspect of the transition, as well. “I prefer Pepsi,” he said. “I like their product line more than Coke.”
Turzai is excited about beginning a good contractual relationship and good professional relationship with Pepsi. Whether or not the students will adapt happily is unknown.