‘A Real Icon’: PepsiCo CFO Details How They Secured LeBron James as New Brand Ambassador

Published 04/16/2021, 8:30 AM EDT
Mar 16, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) wears a face mask in the second half against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports


LeBron James is one of the biggest figures in the world, on and off the court. On the court, James is an all-time great, a four-time NBA champion, four-time league MVP, and a 17-time NBA All-Star. But off the court, James is one of the busiest men in the world. James prides himself for his business off the court, as a venture capitalist and a brand ambassador. And now, he is one of the new faces of PepsiCo.

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PepsiCo CFO talks LeBron James partnership

PepsiCo CFO Hugh Johnston spoke recently on a quarterly earnings call. Johnston had high praise for James. He spoke about how important it was for PepsiCo to sign LeBron James after he had been with Coca-Cola for most of his career.

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Johnston added that James feels passionate about the products they have. He praised LeBron James for the legacy he has built on the court, and off the court through his ventures and social media.

Mar 7, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Team LeBron forward LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers (23) is introduced before the 2021 NBA All-Star Game at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
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Johnston said, “I mean, you’re absolutely right. Mountain Dew Rise is a product we feel great about… I’m excited about this one personally… LeBron James is obviously an amazing basketball player, one of the best of all time. In addition to that, a real icon in terms of social media…”

James excited to work with PepsiCo

Johnston added that PepsiCo feels great about the partnership. Furthermore, James showed genuine excitement in the new product and wanted to be associated with it going forward. James has already put his stamp of approval on Mountain Dew Rise. PepsiCo is looking forward to having and working alongside the basketball star.

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Johnston added, “We feel terrific that he was so excited about the proposition that we put in front of him and what we’re trying to do with Rise that he felt like it was something that he wanted to attach his name to as well…We’re excited to have LeBron and have him on team Pepsi.”

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Is LeBron James one of the greatest businessmen in sports history? Through his near-two decade career, James has been a brand ambassador for several brands, and he has helped launch brands of his own into the world. What makes his success so staggering is that he achieved all this while still playing basketball at the highest level.

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Aaditya Krishnamurthy

1201 articles

Aaditya Krishnamurthy is an NBA & NFL journalist for EssentiallySports, before which he worked at BusinessWorld magazine. He has been a fan of Basketball for over 10 years now, since Shaquille O’Neal was a Phoenix Suns player. During his time at Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts, he started a sports magazine for the college called the Overtime Tribune and hosted the Overtime Tribune Podcast until he graduated.

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