Coke’s Diversity #AmericaIsBeautiful Ambushes Pepsi’s NFL 1/2Time Show

Despite PepsiCo’s 10-year, $2.3bn NFL partnership, the early signs are that it was arch enemy Coca-Cola that stole the Super Bowl marketing trophy with a diversity commercial that generated an avalanche of online chatter and caused great debate among consumers.


Pepsi’s game day work primarily revolved around its sponsorship of the Halftime Show, while Coca-Cola bought two 60-second TV ads – one in each half.


While Coca-Cola released ‘Going All The Way’, one of its two Super Bowl spots, in the lead up to the game, it was deliberately silent about the direction and theme of its other commercial.


Although the soft drinks giants VP of advertising strategy Jonathan Mildenhall did tweet a few teaser shoot scenes and hinted that the spot would celebrate American society and Coca-Cola’s role within it.


So when this second spot, ‘It’s Beautiful’, aired its diversity message still had some ‘surprise and shock’ value when compared to so many other Big Game ads which had been rolled out in the weeks before the Super Bowl.


It certainly had a distinct and pointed diversity message – which seemed to divide online Super Bowl viewers.


The Wieden + Kennedy ad featured people from various ethnic groups and different religious beliefs taking part in almost clichéd scenes of classic American life; a gay couple and their daughter roller skating


It’s soundtrack was led by characters singing ‘America The Beautiful’ – which began in English before switching to people singing the song in other languages including Spanish, Hindi and Arabic.


It certainly proved to be one of, if not the most talked-about commercial in this year’s Super Bowl. Viewers tweeted their responses and, while many loved it, some actually tweeted they would never drink the brand again as a result of the song being sung in foreign languages.



The ad was supported with copy and a hashtag reading ‘The only thing more beautiful than this country are the people who live here. Watch and discover why #AmericaIsBeautiful’.


The making-of, behind-the-scenes video explores the diversity theme further.



While Coke’s YouTube site also includes online films of the song sung entirely in various different accents.


The other 60-second commercial, filmed in Green Bay, was a much more conventional tale about Adrian – an underdog pint sized pee wee footballer who overcame the odds to score a touchdown.


Unsurprisingly, it generated slightly less chatter.





Coke’s twin Super Bowl strategies saw it roll out one fairly standard commercial with the classic Super Bowl pre-release tactic, and another heavy hitting and controversial ad aimed at driving debate and stimulating conversation which it held back until it aired live in the game to maximise immediate impact.


Completely driven by the American patriotic classic “America the Beautiful,” we get a touching


Coke has a distinguished marketing heritage not simply based on celebrating classic and patriotic Americana, but also for promoting and sharing the country’s cultural diversity (and that of the world for that matter too – think back to ‘I’d like to buy the world a Coke’.).


Did Coke manage to steal the thunder from its arch rival and official NFL sponsor and Super Bowl Halftime Show partner Pepsi?


It might well have done just that.


Despite PepsiCo’s 30-year relationship with the NFL which currently revolves around its record breaking 2012/13 sponsorship deal which saw it become the official NFL soft drinks sponsor for the next  10 years at the astonishing cost of $2.3bn.


According to IEG, Pepsi spends around $230m each year on its NFL partnership – one of the largest sports sponsorship deals in history – which sees PepsiCo adopt a masterbrand ad strategy that promote five of its big brands: Pepsi, Gatorade, Frito Lay, Tropicana and Quaker Oats.


Of course, its unique and exclusive rights to America’s number one rated sports league and the ability to develop long term strategic activation plans around the country’s most watched TV show (the Super Bowl), certainly provides a powerful platform for Pepsi to connect with athletes and fans by enhancing their experiences in an authentic and deep-seated way.


According to the company itself, the NFL is one of its most successful partnerships in history.


It really began cranking up its Super Bowl activation around a month before the game – primarily driving awareness of its Halftime show partnership via a ‘Get Hyped For Halftime’ campaign.


This kicked off with a commercial running during the NFL playoffs in which Pepsi reimagines how halftime began with a scenario that shows a 1920s football game being broken up when a car full of women breaks down nearby. They offer the players a Pepsi break and halftime is born.


A further strand of the campaign, continuing on a similar theme, saw Pepsi sponsor a mock Haltime Show commercial during this year’s GRAMMY Awards telecast. This was pitched as footballers giving back some half time entertainment to the music industry to say thanks for the all the musicians who have made the Super Bowl Half Time Show such an extravagant success.


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Other elements of Pepsi’s campaign included a ticket giveaway for the halftime show, plus subway wraps, as well as store window takeovers and digital billboards in New York.


Pepsi, along with agency Mekanism, also ran its own 30-second commercial during the game in the lead up to half time which introduced the halftime show with scenes of giant hands playing New York City landmarks like instruments.





Coca-Cola American The Beautiful YouTube Channel



Coca-Cola America The Beautiful Twitter



Pepsi Get Hyped For Halftime



Pepsi Halftime Show Website



Pepsi Pulse



Pepsi Website


NFL Website




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