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50 years of fighting: The competition between Coke and Pepsi

It's a marketing slam dunk for PepsiCo. 

The multinational food and beverage behemoth made waves recently, announcing that it will become the National Basketball Association's exclusive food and beverage partner in North America, according to Fortune magazine. 

What makes this victory even sweeter for the soda conglomerate? They nabbed the title from Coca-Cola, which has had a relationship with the NBA since 1986. 

Competition between PepsiCo and Coca-Cola has been fierce almost all the way back to PepsiCo's founding in the 1960s. Today, the better beverage debate is still alive and well.

An Opinion Outpost poll showed that, although Pepsi made some gains on the court, respondents still prefer Coke. Out of over 3,000 respondents, some 62 percent noted that Coke was their go-to cola while just 38 percent preferred Pepsi. 

That controversy has spawned some of the most interesting and heated marketing campaigns between the two drink giants. Here are just a few of the TV spots and ads they've used over the years.

An out-of-this-world dispute
The fight between Coke and Pepsi knows no bounds. The two drink titans made the cold vacuum of space their arena for deciding soda supremacy in 1985 when both companies built special space cans for NASA's "Challenger" shuttle, according to Smithsonian magazine. Coke spent an estimated $250,000 developing a can that could work in zero-gravity. Pepsi claimed they spent $14 million researching and developing their own can. 

The battle reached a high point when senators and the White House entered the debate, lobbying for the cola they liked. Jimmy Carter preferred Coke. Ronald Reagan was a Pepsi man.

At the end of the day, four cans from each brand went into space, and the astronauts weren't partial to either beverage.

Fighting with Hollywood's heavy-hitters
Celebrities started endorsing Coke or Pepsi by the dozen in the 1980s, according to New York Magazine. 

Joe Montana challenged celebrity endorsers to a Pepsi taste test during the Super Bowl. Vanna White spelled out her reasons for switching to Coke on an illuminated board. Michael J. Fox appeared for Pepsi bottlers live looking for his "favorite" beverage, and "Sugar Free" Sugar Ray Leonard explained to Super Bowl viewers why Pepsi was too heavy for the former boxing superstar while opting for Coke.

Both companies have used the most popular names in the world like gladiators to fight the soda battle, and not much has changed today. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, these are the celebrities that have endorsed each brand within the past nine or so years.

Michelle Kwan, Ted Ligety, Jessica Long, Evan Lysacek, Gretchen Bleiler, Maroon 5, Dacid Boudia, Rockne Brubaker, Keauna McLaughlin, Alex Morgan, Henry Cejudo, Common, Apolo Ohno, David Oliver, Danica Patrick, Amy Purdy, Marlen Esparza, Angela Ruggiero, Ryan Seacrest, John Isner, Ken Jeong, Magic Johnson, Shawn Johnson

Sergio Aguero, Frank Lampard, Christina Aguilera, Akon, Melanie Amaro, Andrei Arshavin, Michael Ballack, David Beckham, Jennifer Lopez, Eva Longoria, Mary J. Blige, Drew Brees, Lionel Messi, Robinson Cano, Nicki Minaj, Mariah Carey, One Direction, Paula Patton, Katy Perry, Didier Drogba, Bob Dylan, Tony Romo, Flava Flave, Barry Sanders, Calvin Harris, Hunter Hayes, Thierry Henry, Shakira, Britney Spears, Gwen Stefani, Justin Timberlake, Fernando Torres, Elton John, Kanye West, Will.i.Am, Ricardo Kaka, Jack Wilshere, Beyoncé

Whether those celebrities regularly sip either soft drink regularly is up for debate, but they've all spoken on behalf of the companies within recent memory.

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