Coca-Cola terminated a lucrative sponsorship deal with Ronaldinho after the Brazilian soccer star did the unthinkable: He showed up at a press conference drinking a Pepsi.
According to a report in the O Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper, the press conference was held to promote his new team, Atletico Mineiro, of which Pepsi is a sponsor.
But that reasoning didn’t float with Atlanta-based Coke, which had a $750,000 sponsorship deal with Ronaldinho, scheduled to run through 2014.
Read full article after the jump
“The fact that the player has appeared with a can of Pepsi was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Coca-Cola marketing chief Marcelo Pontes told the newspaper. “The sponsorship had become embarrassing.”
Coke had been dismayed that Ronaldinho’s name has recently generated more negative news than positive.
He left his Brazilian club, Flamengo, after suing the club for unpaid wages. Flamengo launched a counter-suit, which will be settled in a Brazilian court.
In May, Flamengo’s biggest fan group posted a letter on its website accusing Ronaldinho of being unprofessional for his conduct at parties and nightclubs.