Why Coke and Pepsi are Calling a Truce—For Now
Pepsi and Coke are setting aside their differences to support veterans.
The CEOs of Coca-Cola (KO) and PepsiCo (PEP) have come together to create a public service announcement for American Corporate Partners (ACP), a nonprofit that connects veterans to professionals for career guidance. In the spot, Coke’s Muhtar Kent and Pepsi’s Indra Nooyi encourage Americans to volunteer on ACP AdvisorNet, a free career advice site for veterans.
“Coke and Pepsi, together?” Kent says in the spot, with mock incredulity. “One thing that unites us is supporting our veterans,” Nooyi explains.
Jokes aside, getting the two CEOs to work together wasn’t as challenging as you would think, says ACP founder and chairman Sid Goodfriend. When Goodfriend approached Nooyi, a longtime partner of ACP, with the idea, “she thought about it for a moment, smiled, and said ‘I’ll do it if he’ll do it,” Goodfriend says. Kent followed suit: “If Indra’s doing it, I’ll do it too,” Goodfriend recalls him saying.
“They compete on the beverage side for customers, but independently both companies are very focused on veterans,” Goodfriend says. Both have robust veteran recruiting programs, and are “veteran friendly,” he says.
This is the first time the two CEOs have come together in such a public way, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t met before. According to a Coke representative, Nooyi even went to a reception hosted by Coke during the World Economic Forum at Davos.
While the meeting of the beverage bosses may not seem like a big deal, it’s a huge shift from how the two companies’ previous chiefs behaved. Roberto Goizueta, CEO of Coke from 1980 to 1997, and Roger Enrico, who held the top job at PepsiCo from 1996 to 2001, famously never met or tasted their rival’s drinks, wrote Fortune‘s Pattie Sellers in 1996.
Who could have imagined that only 20 years later, the two companies would be featured in the same ad?
Watch the full clip here: