>I’m bringing pizza tonight for our movie rehearsal. Ben Green emailed back, “great, I’ll bring Pepsi or something!”. I replied back, “NO! – BRING COKE!”

It prompted me to share my reason here.

It was back in 1994. A hot summer in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Yes, it happens… hot days in Northern Wisconsin. I think the heat index that day was 115 degrees, very humid. I was doing afternoons at WIAL-FM (I-94) that year.

If memory serves, we were recruiting listeners to be in our BOOM BOX BRIGADE for the local 4th of July parade. Simple. Bring your boombox, we’ll pipe in some patriotic music and we’ll all march behind the I-94 van wearing I-94 T-shirts!

I’m guessing we had over a hundred listeners show up. If it wasn’t that many, it was close. Men, woman, children of all ages. We gave them all free I-94 T-shirts so we’d all look the same. Most just put the T-shirts over the clothes they were wearing. Which I’m sure made them even hotter than most.

Like good soldiers, we all marched the whole parade. Holding up our boomboxes, high and proud. It was a hot and long journey, but we made it. And it was a hit for onlookers.

Since our I-94 van sponsor is Coca-Cola, the local distributor was kind enough to furnish FREE chilled cans of Coca Cola for all our brigade participants. We were hot, tired, and very thirsty.

This is actually what happened, and I have plenty of witnesses, so no one can sue me or call me a liar.

At the end of the parade, we ended up at a local park where there was other 4th of July activities going on. Live bands, concessions, etc. No one told us that the main sponsor of the park events was Pepsi. We didn’t find out until….

As we were passing out the Cokes to the children first, a couple of men ran up to us and said, “Hey, you have to take this van out of the park (it had Coca Cola logos on it) and you CAN’T BE SELLING COKE PRODUCTS HERE!”

When Rick Roberts (the station program director) informed them that we weren’t selling the Cokes, they were free refreshments for our listeners who just marched in the parade over an hour, carrying heavy boomboxes.

The two guys from Pepsi said, “We’re the main sponsors of the park events and we have exclusivity, WE PAID FOR EXCLUSIVITY, you must take your van and Cokes off the premises immediately!”

Rick said, “Just let these people quench their thirst and we’ll leave immediately.” “NO, you can’t even open those products out here, please leave now, or we’ll have the police escort you out.”

“The police?, are you serious?”

Of course, our listeners during all of this are encircling these jerks, yelling and cussing (and opening the Cokes up anyway).

So we took out our big megaphone and announced to everyone in earshot, “Sorry, we’ve been told that this event is sponsored by Pepsi and since we have Coca-cola logos on our van we have to leave. Even though all we want to do is quench our thirst with free Coke, apparantly, they want us all to WALK out of the park, before we can do that. I-94 just wanted to let everyone know how gracious this event’s sponsor, Pepsi is to our community.”

And they followed us out of the park. We all had to walk about a half mile to the park’s exit.

Before that day, I didn’t care what soda was what. I drank what was offered.

I spent several days on the air allowing our listeners to vent their distaste (if you will) about Pepsi and the stupid cola wars.

It’s been about 15 years and I’m sure some of those brigade marchers have moved on. But, I’m betting that Pepsi lost a huge market share in Eau Claire since that hot July afternoon.

Because of Pepsi’s petty behavior, I’ve vowed never to drink another Pepsi product again. And I tell this story everytime someone near me orders a Pepsi product. My wife (when we met) was a Pepsi drinker. I think to impress me she switched to Coke. She tells me today that she can’t even stand the tasted of Pepsi.

Perhaps Coca Cola has done something similar in other cities because we all know about the insane cola wars, but I can personally testify the Pepsi marketing people are cold-blooded jerks to insist that our thirsty, hot, SOFT DRINK BUYERS, had to walk a half mile in the heat to quench their thirst.

And Coca Cola is much better tasting!