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As the popular commercials say, "Open Happiness." University administrators released a Request for Proposals for the exclusive beverage rights in September, 2011 and Coca-Cola Bottlers Consolidated was awarded the contract for exclusive right to sell its products on campus, effective January 1, 2011. This replaced the previous contract with Minges Bottling Group, a Pepsi-Cola company, which had been in place since 1998.
In a 2011 press release, Associate Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance – Business Services, Scott Buck said the bidding process was complex due to new state requirements to separately request proposals for soft drinks, juice, and bottled water. Coca-Cola's combined bids totaled $10.5 million over the next ten years.
“We have enjoyed a positive working relationship with Pepsi and the Minges Bottling Group, and have a tremendous respect for the Minges family and their ties to East Carolina and the region,” said Buck. “This new contract represents the beginning of a new relationship, and we are extremely pleased with the generous commitment that Coke has made to ECU.”
Canned, bottled, and fountain drinks sold or distributed on campus, in university dining halls, cafes and convenience shops, as well as at all athletic concessions, special events, and in vending machines are covered under the new Coca-Cola contract. As with the previous contract, this does not cover personal consumption of other brands on campus. But rather, it covers all soft drinks, juice, and bottled water that is sold, purchased by departments or organizations to be given away at events or activities, sampled or distributed on ECU property. It is the intent of the exclusivity contract for Coca-Cola to now claim rights to be the official soft drink of East Carolina University.
The University will allocate the revenue from the new contract to academic merit scholarships, athletic scholarships, and leadership and educational projects. The Athletics Department will receive funding for capital projects. A percentage will go to an endowment fund for academic scholarships, an endowment fund for grants-in-aid to student-athletes, and faculty/student leadership programs.
Coke’s line of products include the traditional Coca-cola sodas: Coke, Diet Coke, Coke Zero, Cherry Coke, Sprite, Sprite Zero, Mello Yellow, Dr. Pepper, and Diet Dr. Pepper. Fanta Orange and Grape, Seagram’s Ginger Ale, Nestea, Hi-C, and Sundrop are other examples included in the Coke product line. Minute Maid, Fuze, V8 Splash and V8 Fusion blends are among the juices carried. Bottled water brands include Dasani, Vitaminwater, and Smartwater. Powerade, Full Throttle and NOS are energy drinks under the Coke brand. While not all types of beverages will be offered at every venue, the product assortment will be adjusted based on product sales and customer preference in specific areas. Specialty and new beverages on the market are brought to campus when available, and on a limited basis.
Auxiliary Services Director Willie Lee coordinated the bid process, and is the contract administrator. “We expect a smooth transition as campus facilities and equipment is changed from one provider to the other,” said Lee in January, 2011. “Students, staff, and faculty will see the changes when they return for the spring semester after the holidays,” he added. Some of the transition is expected to begin as early as mid-December, as the contract takes effect January 1, 2011.
Athletic venue concession booths saw a transition of equipment. Vending machines were replaced with new machines. Dining halls, cafes, and campus convenience stores were completed prior to the students return for spring semester in early January.
Upon winning the contract, the local Coca-Cola bottler is excited to be back on campus as many employees are ECU alumnus. Their familiarity with the campus and understanding of the diverse populations will benefit them in serving the ECU market of students, staff, faculty, and medical professionals. With their offices based in Greenville, many of the staff are involved in the community, and are big supporters of local youth sports teams and other activities.
Coca-Cola Bottling Company Consolidated has their corporate offices in Charlotte and is very familiar with having exclusive rights on college campuses, including similar relationships with schools such as NC State, West Virginia, Clemson, and the University of South Carolina.
Please call 737-1301 or 737-1311 to report the problem. If possible, please provide the equipment number and location so that the machine can be repaired in a timely manner. Refunds are issued at Dowdy Student Stores' accounting office in the Wright Building or the Medical Bookstore in Brody 1S-04. Please be prepared to provide the equipment number and location of the drink machine when requesting a refund. If you encounter a major service problem with a drink vending machine on a weekend, there is a silver sticker on the machine with a toll-free phone number to call. You will need the "equipment number" on the sticker to report the problem. Vandalism should be reported to the ECU Police as soon as possible.
The 3+ ft. Coke polar bears are given away at certain events, such as the Polar Bear Plunge each January.
Coke is a sponsor for many events, providing major prizes for contests and various other items for participants. They donate beverages throughout the year to a variety of organizations. There are also several special promotions held at ECU with premiums given with the purchase of Coca-Cola brand drinks.
The Coca-Cola company has a multitude of programs related to current social issues. One of their web sites details these projects: http://www.livepositively.com/