Less than one year after taking the reins of PepsiCo Inc.’s sports marketing department, Jennifer Storms has placed her stamp on the company’s sponsorship strategy.

Storms, who became PepsiCo’s senior vice president of sports marketing in July 2011, is placing more focus on leveraging the beverage giant’s sponsorship portfolio across the company’s multiple brands.

Case in point: PepsiCo last year added The Quaker Oats Co. and Tropicana Products, Inc. as part of its multiyear renewal with the National Football League. Quaker receives exclusivity in the chewy granola bar, oats and rice cake categories, while Tropicana gains exclusivity in the orange juice category.

More recently, PepsiCo this month added Quaker Oats and the breakfast food category to its partnership with Major League Soccer. The tie builds on PepsiCo’s ownership of the carbonated and non-alcoholic and non-dairy soft drink categories, around which it uses to promote the Aquafina, Gatorade and Pepsi Max brands.

Business units also are spearheading their own deals. Quaker Oats is supporting its MLS partnership with a new multiyear tie to the MLS Chicago Fire, a partnership that affords branding on player jerseys.

PepsiCo was the largest U.S.-based sponsor in 2010 with a budget of $335 million to $340 million, according to IEG research.

IEG SR spoke with Storms and Candace Mueller-Medina, Quaker Oats’ director of communications, about the beverage giant’s new sponsorship strategy, Quaker Oats’ new partnership with the Chicago Fire, and other topics.

Below are edited excerpts from the conversation.

IEG SR: What is the thinking behind PepsiCo’s new sponsorship push?

Storms: PepsiCo has an amazing foundation with sports properties. We are the longest sponsor of the NFL through our Pepsi brand, and we’re a founding sponsor of Major League Soccer.

We work closely with those organizations day-to-day, and we constantly have conversations about how we can grow business together and do more things. We had the opportunity to bring Quaker Oats and Tropicana into discussions with the NFL so they could be part of our sports marketing family.

We have a broad portfolio, and sports leagues reach so many consumers. We want our brands to meet the needs of every consumer and athlete.

IEG SR: How will the brands co-mingle?

Storms: We want each brand to maintain a distinct voice. That is important when we’re working with the National Football League, Major League Soccer or any other property. Our brands can talk to the same consumer through the league partnerships, but their success is based on the ability to have their own voice.

IEG SRWhen and how will Quaker Oats and Tropicana activate the NFL?

Storms: The partnerships start with the 2012-2013 season, but you’ll likely see Quaker Oats and Tropicana make some announcements at the end of the current season to tease the sponsorships and get things rolling.

We’re the longest-standing sponsor of the NFL. The relationship is all about good business, not when the contract actually starts.

IEG SR: Does Pepsi plan to expand its partnerships with other properties?

Storms: We’re always looking for the ability to expand our business, and if that involves our partnerships, we’ll consider it. We’ll evaluate opportunities that help us grow our business and create partnerships that make sense.

IEG SR: Candace, what is Quaker Oats’ take on the NFL and MLS sponsorships?

Mueller-Medina: Sports marketing is a great way to reach families and remind them about eating right and getting active.

Soccer is one of the country’s fastest-growing sports with 18 million active participants.  Sponsorship provides a great opportunity to combine nourishing foods with physical activity to provide a holistic way for families to get involved. 

IEG SR: Tell me about the Fire partnership. 

Mueller-Medina: The Fire embodies the same spirit, values and vision of the Quaker Oats brand. Our vision is to create a partnership that promotes the health and well-being of Chicago families and the community.

The partnership affords a number of assets including in-game features and broadcast elements. Those are all great, but what’s really important is what we’ll do off the field by engaging and interacting with the Chicago community.

As part of the sponsorship, Quaker Oats will title the Chicago Fire Juniors, the team’s youth development program. The platform gives us the opportunity to connect with more than six thousand families nationally and locally.

IEG SR: What else does that package include? 

Mueller-Medina: The sponsorship includes a dedicated Quaker Corner seating section in Toyota Park. We’ll use the seating section to provide great views and the opportunity to sample chewy bars, cookies and other products.

IEG SR: What is the thinking behind the jersey sponsorship?

Mueller-Medina: Exposure on jerseys is a very important component of the relationship and a coveted spot for any sponsor.

We’ll use the jersey to promote our word mark and the Quaker man. It’s the Quaker face and name that people trust, so it’s important to have both on the jerseys.

IEG SR: Tell me about Quaker’s partnership with Major League Soccer. What does that partnership bring to the marketing table?

Mueller-Medina: We’re the official breakfast foods partner of Major League Soccer. We’ll have a presence at the MLS First Kick, All-Star Game and MLS Cup. We’ll have a lot of local activation with the Fire and national activation with the league.

IEG SR: Will you activate with retail promotions?

Mueller-Medina: It’s definitely something we’re looking at. The sponsorships are a great way to activate in-store to drive folks to the game, and vice versa.

We’ll also activate with our employees. We’re going to host a pep rally this week to showcase the sponsorship and unveil the jersey. Employees are our greatest asset, and we want to make sure they’re included in any sponsorship that we do.