Tsquared, MLG featured on Dr Pepper bottles

Although commercial relationships between soft drink companies and professional athletes have a long history in the world of advertising, Dr Pepper has never featured an athlete on its label for national distribution. Until now, that is.

Starting in January, approximately 175 million 20-ounce bottles of Dr Pepper and Diet Dr Pepper will have the likeness of an athlete prominently adorning the label. But instead of choosing a sports hero from a "traditional" sport like football or basketball, they decided to feature Tom "Tsquared" Taylor, one of Major League Gaming's biggest stars.

"It is an amazing feeling to see my face on the new Dr Pepper bottle," said Taylor. "I'm honored that Dr Pepper has invested in Major League Gaming and put so much support behind me and my teammates.

Taylor is the leader Str8 Rippen, currently the No. 1 ranked team heading into the MLG National Championships this weekend in Las Vegas.

The specially labeled bottles are part of an expanded sponsorship deal between Dr Pepper and MLG that also will include a promotional Web site that will feature hours of team and individual player content allowing fans to see and hear every aspect of Str8 Rippin and the competitive gaming lifestyle. This material will include tips on how they play, how they prepare for the National Championships and behind-the-scenes features on a day-in-the-life of the top gamers in the world.

"We're excited about giving Dr Pepper consumers and aspiring gamers inside access to Str8 Rippin and a chance to interact with this great team and Major League Gaming," said Terry Hockens, Dr Pepper brand manager.

In keeping with the brand's unique level of MLG fan engagement, every specially-labeled Dr Pepper bottle will feature a winning code. In addition to chances to win great prizes including Xbox consoles, television monitors, custom headphones and t-shirts, every code entered will earn consumers online tournament points at www.gamebattles.com.

"2008 has been a year of unbelievable 'firsts' for MLG and the Dr Pepper bottle promotion is like the cherry on top," said Mike Sepso, co-founder and chairman of Major League Gaming. "The most successful professional sports leagues got that way by creating meaningful partnerships with the world's premier marketers and we are thrilled to work with Dr Pepper in that spirit. This is one of the largest consumer promotions in video gaming and professional sports, and it's game-chaning for MLG and Str8 Rippen's talented pro gamers."