Photos by Abby Van Buren
Over the course of the week, a multitude of Pepsi-based activities have occurred around campus. To continue the university’s mission of student engagement, UVU and Pepsi have partnered up this year to make Homecoming Week one to remember.
Pepsi along with iHeartRadio and Motive Marketing have collectively worked with UVU officials in preparation for the week-long series of events, ultimately leading up to the surprise concert held on Saturday, Sept. 29.
Alumni communications manager Amie Huntsman is one of many people responsible for the deal between UVU and Pepsi. According to Huntsman, Pepsi had reached out to Wyoming-based distributor Admiral Beverage, in an attempt to determine a location for a community relations event. One of Admiral’s franchise managers Leonard Hernandez suggested hosting the event at UVU.
Huntsman said that the process of planning the partnership began shortly after labor day, and only took four weeks to finalize. UVU’s athletics department was then approached by Pepsi who reached out to UVU Alumni to begin planning and preparations for the event.
Huntsman adds that while the deal is now done, the preliminary stages of planning took some adjusting.
“They brought us an idea of what they wanted to do, but their initial idea versus what is happening now was completely different,” said Huntsman. “Going through all the approvals on campus — they had to change their plan significantly.”
When asked about the impact that a sponsorship of this magnitude will have on students and alumni of future generations, Huntsman said, “We hope this will set a standard for future homecomings.”
Assisting in connecting the UVU Alumni Association’s mission for homecoming week with Pepsi’s sponsorship is Scott Cooksey, vice president for development and alumni relations and CEO of the UVU Foundation. Cooksey says that the seamlessness of the partnership made perfect sense.
“One of the beautiful things about what Pepsi did was they worked with where we are at with homecoming, supported our activities and added a few others that complimented them,” said Cooksey. “It’s been a really nice partnership I think.”
When asked what role alumni play in the planning of homecoming events, Cooksey said that they remain a constant priority.
“Our goal is to bring alumni back to campus,” said Cooksey. “We alumni to bring their families and especially kids to these so that when they grow up, they remember the experiences they had at UVU.”
Alongside various staff members such as the campus fire marshall, UVU’s chief of police, and the risk management department, sponsors of homecoming week finalized logistical details to ensure safety was a top priority.
“While UVU takes student success very seriously, they also take student safety very seriously,” said Cooksey.
Kevin R. Walkenhorst, the senior director of alumni relations and annual giving also played a big role in the talks leading up to the historic partnership. Speaking of the challenges involved with organizing the multitude of events for Saturday’s finale, Walkenhorst says that fitting so many events in one day is all but easy.
“The biggest concern is that on Saturday we have the homecoming fair, a soccer game, the bull riding championships in the UCCU center and then a concert on top of it,” Walkenhorst said. “We had to negotiate a lot about how to bring in these groups at certain times so that they are complementing one another.”
In 2014 Pepsi held a similar event in Ogden as a way to give back to the community. Various activities and a parade were held, followed by a surprise concert headlined by Phillip Phillips.
The entirety of funds used for the week-long festivities was said to be covered by sponsors, but university officials could not comment on the total dollar amount paid by Pepsi for promotion and marketing costs.