If you look across the East River at the landmarked Pepsi-Cola sign glowing on the Long Island City waterfront Thursday night, you’ll notice a new logo.
But tweaking the iconic symbol of manufacturing wasn’t done without some controversy.
There is a commercial reason: PepsiCo has partnered with JetBlue, the airline based in Long Island City, to carry its sodas and other products on all JetBlue flights. To mark the deal, JetBlue added its familiar text-based logo, plus a blue arrow, clouds and a jet emblem, to the bottom of the sign that sits in Gantry Plaza State Park.
The four JetBlue insignia will be illuminated Aug. 22, and remain attached to the structure with metal framing through Oct. 1.
The amended signage, which was installed on Tuesday, didn’t brighten everyone’s mood in Queens.
"It’s a pretty significant change to a pretty visible, iconic sign," City Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, whose district includes Long Island City, said on Wednesday in a statement provided to amNewYork. "Even if it’s temporary, it shouldn’t be there."
The dual-branded sign nods to the newness of the corporate partnership — JetBlue started carrying PepsiCo products on its flights in June, switching from Coca-Cola, JetBlue’s vice president of marketing Elizabeth Windram said.
"We’re both great fun, New York brands and we have a lot in common," Windram said. "This is a first for us — to be a part of the skyline that way."
The Pepsi-Cola sign, which was first installed in 1936 and then affixed to the top of Pepsi’s bottling plant along the East River, was landmarked in July 2016.
The temporary tweaks were approved by the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission on Aug. 14, as it will "have no effect on significant protected features of the building," according to its permit.
"The LPC rules allow for the installation of temporary signs on landmark properties for up to 180 days," the commission said in a statement. "LPC found that the temporary installation of illuminated JetBlue signage on the Pepsi Cola sign met the Commission’s rules for temporary installations and issued a permit on Aug. 14, which will expire on Oct. 1, 2019. To ensure removal of the temporary signage, and as required by the rules, LPC required an escrow agreement."
When an application meets LPC rules, it can be approved by staff, rather than going through a public hearing, per an LPC spokesperson. In fact, about 97% of applications received by the LPC are approved by staff.
Windram said the company has taken steps to ensure the sign is not affected.
"History buffs have no fear — we have been very careful to make sure the addition of the JetBlue brand will not damage the sign," she said.
After the JetBlue logos’ installation, New Yorkers swiftly took to Twitter to express disapproval, saying the landmark shouldn’t be used for advertising.
"Is NOTHING sacred? What’s next — the Statue of Liberty holding a Big Mac instead of a torch?" one New Yorker tweeted.
Even a JetBlue fan wasn’t swayed: "@JetBlue you know I have nothing but mad love for you guys-truly, best airline. But the decision to place your logo on the Pepsi-Cola light billboard in NYC isn’t a good look," another tweeted.