Brazilian superstar Ronaldinho has had a colourful career and wider life. As one of football’s most recognisable stars, Ronaldinho has always been a dream for marketers.

However, for soft drink giant Coca-Cola, this supposed dream partnership went flat, after Ronaldinho inexplicably drank a can of rival Pepsi in a press conference.

The contract

Everyone is aware of the rivalry between Coca-Cola and Pepsi – they are the world’s biggest soft drink companies, and between them dominate the soft drinks market.

Ronaldinho originally worked for Pepsi, and appeared in several TV adverts and marketing campaigns for the company. As one of the best footballers at the time, Ronaldinho was earning a lucrative amount from Pepsi.

But in 2011 this changed. Ronaldinho – who at this point was in the twilight of his career – signed a deal with Coca-Cola. While not as lucrative as his Pepsi contract, it was reportedly worth £500,000 per year.

The Pepsi-drinking incident

But in July 2012, an infamous event happened. Ronaldinho had just signed with Brazilian club Atletico Mineiro, and was being unveiled by the club in the form of a press conference.

But during this press conference, Ronaldinho was seen sipping on a can of Pepsi in front of him. This continued in plain sight throughout the press conference.

Needless to say, Coca-Cola were left aghast by the event. Pepsi meanwhile found the entire incident hilarious.

The contract is terminated

Unsurprisingly, Ronaldinho’s contract with Coca-Cola was terminated. The can of Pepsi appeared to cost Ronaldinho a cool £1,000,000 in lost earnings!

Some suggested this was unfair, with Ronaldinho not helped by the fact that Atletico Mineiro were sponsored by Pepsi at the time – making the drink freely available.

But from a business sense, you can see why. Coca-Cola were paying Ronaldinho handsomely, so having him effectively market their arch-nemesis Pepsi was a deeply embarrassing moment.

Moreover, it is also known that Ronaldinho was already on thin ice with Coca-Cola. Reports of unprofessionalism were rife, and one report at the time said that the Pepsi incident was “the straw that broke the camel’s back”.

Coca-Cola continues to attract well-known names to their stable. We presume that Ronaldinho didn’t care too much, with the Brazilian having many other endorsement deals to fall back on.

The Takeaway

Anyone that has covered the career of Ronaldinho will know of his extensive shenanigans, questionable behaviours and party-loving behaviour.

Amongst all of his memorable moments, the Coca-Cola and Pepsi drinking incident is one of the most infamous. Despite leaving his career behind, the good times have continued, with the Brazilian rarely out of the news.