Pepsi ambushes Coca-Cola’s official World Cup sponsorship with its ‘Now Is What You Make It’ initiative leveraging excitement around the planet’s biggest sporting event.
The campaign’s title is a play on the brand’s umbrella ‘Live For Now’ big idea and the work launched on the same day great rival and official FIFA sponsor Coca-Cola’s own World Cup campaign (see previous case study).
The guerilla brand’s campaign leverages Pepsi’s set of player ambassadors and music partnerships in a flagship two-minute flagship commercial that blends soccer and song via a light-hearted (and somewhat unlikely) story set in the streets of Rio.
The campaign, which has been developed in partnership with creative agency 180LA, follows YouTube music star ‘Stony’ as he wonders through the city creating music from its street furniture and everyday objects and stumbling across several of the world’s biggest soccer superstars.
Stony is a 19-year-old YouTube musical phenomenon known for mixing digital and street beats and in the creative he plays the role of a ‘musical everyman’, while the footballers play the star turns.
The six Pepsi players who appear in this international launch spot are Messi and Agüero (Argentina), van Persie (Netherlands), Wilshere (England), Luiz (Brazil) and Ramos (Spain).
In total, the wider Pepsi World Cup campaigns features 19 footballers who will front ad creative and appear on Pepsi cans and local country Pepsi marketers are given the option to feature the players that resonate best in their markets.
Towards the end of the spot Janelle Monáe, The American R&B and soul singer, musician, composer and producer, puts in an appearance performing her Pepsi exclusive re-recording of David Bowie’s ‘Heroes’.
Fans can download the track, officially called ‘Heroes (Pepsi Beats Of The Beautiful Game)’ from iTunes for $1.29 (see https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/heroes-pepsi-beats-beautiful/id850005232).
The campaign, shot in host nation Brazil, also includes both 30- and 60-second versions of the spot.
More interestingly, Pepsi has also produced an interactive video version of the spot, featuring four minutes of additional content and additional Pepsi players (such as US star Clint Dempsey), which comes packed with bonuses that can be unlocked by viewers at various moments.
The campaign revolves around http://www.Pepsi.com/FutbolNow website (embedded within Pepsi’s ongoing umbrella ‘Pepsi Pulse’ platform) and it also pushes social interaction through the campaign hashtag #FutbolNow
A further strand of the campaign is Pepsi’s ‘The Art of Football’ project – a series of portraits of the Pepsi players created with photographer Danny Clinch and street artists from the home countries of several of Pepsi’s soccer players.
These portraits are also used across billboard and out-of-home executions.
The players also feature on a set of special campaign cans.
‘We were inspired by the power and unity that sports and music bring to the world. Our content plan to capture this spirit celebrates the creative passion of footballers with music and how both of these awesome forces inspire us to “Live for Now”,’ explains Pepsi’s global Chief Marketing Officer Kristin Patrick.
‘This year, we are giving fans a totally unique and immersive experience of their own – personalised journey that combines iconic music, our stellar roster of football talent and the ability to create your own “Now” – uniting Pepsi fans around the world in a celebration of sport, music, art and everyday moments.’
The Pepsi player-led commercial, shot in the shot nation, has echoes of the brand’s 2010 South Africa World Cup ambush campaign.
‘What’s different about this campaign is we’re approaching it like the launch of a film,’ argues Patrick. ‘There are a series of launches and announcements, with something happening almost every month. It’s very much about this deep pool of content and immersing the brand very deeply in culture and football.’
In recent years PepsiCo has been re-arranging its brands into a global structure – it only broke its first genuinely global Pepsi campaign two years ago – and this football initiative is its greatest global campaign yet.
In total, 100 markets will implement some aspect of the initiative.
The interactivity is certainly fresh and neat and is part of Pepsi’s plan to create World Cup related work through engaging content, products and experiences that personally bring fans ‘closer to the game they love’.
The use of Stony aims to tone down the celebrity dominance of some of Pepsi’s recent work.
‘Celebrity is always going to be an element of this brand. It’s definitely part of our DNA, and we’re not walking away from that at all, but the idea of making things relatable for this new generation of consumers is really important,” explains Patrick. ‘We thought there was something [powerful] about Stony, his social-media following and finding someone who could unite all these personalities.’
But the footballer cameos ensure the star-studded celebrity feel remains.
Using player partnerships to ambush an official tournament is the classic guerrilla tactic when it comes to football tournaments.
And Pepsi has certainly put together its most impressive footballer roster yet – a spread of talented stars who it believes embody the brand’s spirit (and have collective reach across its major markets).
And, of course, there are few better players to have in your brand ambassador arsenal than Barcelona and Argentina star Lionel Messi.
Nevertheless, there’s something rather generic about Pepsi’s Brazil 2014 work to date.
The allure of star player power is a well worn tactic, while a campaign using a contemporary, inventive musician to build up a song through the everyday sounds of the street and the sport has hints of Coca-Cola’s Mark Ronson ‘Move To The Beat’ campaign at London 2012 (see previous case study).
In fact, using David Bowie’s ‘Heroes’ as your event anthem is also all very London Olympics.
Pepsi Futol Now Website
Pepsi YouTube Chanel
Stonys World YouTube