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Pepsi vs. Coke: The real rivalry of Super Bowl 53 in Atlanta

Posted at 4:43 PM, Jan 29, 2019

Atlanta is gearing up for one of the biggest battles the dirty South has ever seen. No, not that little football game between the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams. It's the soft drink showdown: Coke vs. Pepsi.

Pepsi is one of Super Bowl 53's biggest sponsors, and faster than you can say "bless your heart" the company swarmed Atlanta, the home of Coca-Cola, with over 350 ads on billboards, recycling bins and even the walls of train stations.

The ads are not only huge, they're snarky too. One billboard right down the street from The World of Coca-Cola museum reads "Pepsi in Atlanta. How Refreshing." Another displays the phrase "Hey Atlanta, Thanks For Hosting. We'll Bring The Drinks."

The promotion is "a big spend for us," said Greg Lyons, chief marketing officer for Pepsi Beverages North America. "We are absolutely leaning in to make sure that we are painting Atlanta blue during the Super Bowl."

Despite the blue wave, Coca-Cola proved it knows a thing or two about being a good Southern hostess welcoming Pepsi's presence in Atlanta.

"As Atlanta's hometown beverage company for more than 130 years, we're thrilled to help our city welcome everyone to town for the Big Game, including our friends from Pepsi," Coca-Cola told CNN.

The brands have a long rivalry

The soft drink brands have been rivals for decades, throwing jabs at each other with videos like Pepsi's blind taste test commercial which first ran in the 1970s. The rivalry started to fade as PepsiCo focused on its merger with Frito-Lay, and Coca-Cola relaunched its Diet Coke line.

While both companies have expanded their product line to include teas, water and energy drinks, Coke is still winning the cola war.

In the last decade, Coke has seen a .5% rise in its market share , while Pepsi's dropped 1.9%, according to Beverage Digest.

This is how Coke responded

Although Pepsi stepped all over Coke's turf, Coca-Cola plans to use its Super Bowl commercial to celebrate unity.

The company's "A Coke is a Coke" ad, which will air right before the National Anthem, drives home the message that people joining together is beautiful. The Coca-Cola Foundation also announced a $1 million donation to Atlanta's National Center for Civil and Human Rights, which will allow the museum to provide free admission from January 28 through the end of February.

Pepsi's message for fans on Super Bowl Sunday is a little different. This year, the company's TV ad plans to finally answer the question, "Is Pepsi OK?"