Pepsi promotes Super Bowl halftime show instead of running in-game spot

Dive Brief:

  • Pepsi today kicked off a multichannel campaign in the lead-up to the Super Bowl, when the soda brand returns as the name sponsor of the halftime show. The centerpiece of the campaign is its first national TV spot to promote the live concert, whose headline act this year is singer The Weeknd, per an announcement emailed to Marketing Dive.
  • As part of the promotion for Pepsi’s 10th year as the sponsor of the Super Bowl Halftime Show, the brand unveiled a special website, PepsiHalftime.com, with behind-the-scenes videos and an augmented reality (AR) experience on Instagram. QR codes on the website and specially marked cans of Pepsi can be scanned with a smartphone camera to see an AR selfie lens in the photo-sharing app.
  • Pepsi will premiere its TV spot, titled “Your Moment,” during NFL Super Wild Card games this weekend, followed by national airings until the Super Bowl, which is scheduled to take place on Feb. 7. The campaign’s in-store effort includes point-of-sale displays at retail chains including Kroger, 7-Eleven, Target and Dollar General, among others, according to the announcement.

Dive Insight:

Pepsi is taking a different approach to this year’s Super Bowl and, for the first time, is running a national TV campaign promoting its sponsorship of the big game’s halftime show over the course of the several weeks leading up to the highly anticipated competition instead of buying a multi-million dollar 30-second ad during the game, per the release. This approach will enable the brand to leverage the 12-minutes of time it already has during the game as a sponsor of the halftime show, which often draws millions of viewers on its own.

Pepsi is going all-in with a multichannel effort that includes an Instagram activation and special packaging with QR codes to activate digital content, tactics that could help it reach younger consumers. With its new approach, Pepsi is betting that it can get more bang for its buck by promoting a live TV spectacle at a time when consumers are stuck at home because of the ongoing pandemic, which last year led to a dearth of live concerts, tours and festivals.

“Coming off of a year that was mostly void of live music, we are reimagining the Pepsi Super Bowl Halftime Show to ensure fans can experience The Weeknd’s performance in new ways that have never been done before, with tons of exclusive access and content leading up to the show,” said Todd Kaplan, vice president of marketing at Pepsi, in a statement.

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Pepsi is among the brands that have committed to the Super Bowl, which traditionally has served as the biggest stage for advertisers, often setting the tone for marketing the rest of year. Mtn Dew, another soda brand marketed by parent company PepsiCo, will return to the Super Bowl for a second year in a row. Meanwhile, Mars Wrigley’s M&M’s brand, Kellogg’s Pringles snack brand, Anheuser-Busch, Toyota and TurboTax also plan to air commercials during the game, according to a running tally compiled by Marketing Dive.

This year’s big game follows a year of pandemic disruptions, and an estimated 7% average decline in TV viewership during the regular season, per Nielsen data cited by Sports Media Watch. Fan attendance was limited because of the health crisis, rescheduled games interrupted normal viewing schedules and the sports calendar grew crowded as other professional sports leagues resumed operations to finish their seasons. The Super Bowl is a chance to rebuild the audience for sports programming, as leagues work to resume normal schedules this year.

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