I have long maintained that last week’s infamous Stan Van Gundy-Dwight Howard confrontation was really just a well-disguised viral marketing stunt to reposition Diet Pepsi as “the rebel’s soft drink” or “the only choice for people who stand up for themselves.” After all, why else would SVG so blatantly swig from a can of Diet Pepsi if he wasn’t ready to become the company’s newest spokesman? We’ve seen a bunch of this kind of stuff before, so now we can’t be fooled.
But there’s something you need to know about Stan Van Gundy and Diet Pepsi — it’s not actually his go-to drink of choice. Turns out, he’s a poplygamist. From SB Nation:
“He kinda goes between Diet Pepsi and Diet Coke sometimes,” Magic center Daniel Orton dished. “Somewhat of a traitor actually. No brand loyalty at all.”
Well, that’s it. There goes that revenue stream, which really would have come in handy this summer when the Magic finally acquiesce to Dwight’s desires and can their coach. Unless the masterminds behind the Diet Pepsi branding mobile can turn this in to some sort of “Your Cheatin’ Heart” spinoff, it’s over.
Of course, it’s hard to blame Stan for wanting to drink Diet Coke. Not only is it quite obviously a better drink, it’s also the drink of choice in the Van Gundy family. From a 2003 Sports Illustrated interview with Stan’s brother Jeff:
SI: As a coach, you were an obsessive Diet Coke drinker. How many cans did you go through then? How many now?
Van Gundy: On the day of a game, I was good for a six pack. Now I’m down to four, but don’t try to sneak a Diet Pepsi in there.
It’s not often that a younger brother sets the tone for a family, but I guess that’s the case here. Maybe Stan’s waffling on picking a favorite diet soda is because he doesn’t want to let down his little bro. That’s a big responsibility to live up to, so I can see where he’s coming from.
But still, things don’t look good for this potentially lucrative business partnership. Between losing out on this and failing to capitalize on possible endorsement deals with a mock turtleneck manufacturer, I am starting to think Stan doesn’t have good financial advisers. These are no-brainer sponsorship deals that he could have locked down. If he misses out on Daniel Orton’s suggestion that he monetize his mustache, we’ll know something is up.