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Volume 22 No. 28
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Pepsi returns to Super Bowl

Deal for halftime show links brand’s music, sports efforts

Pepsi is returning as title sponsor of the Super Bowl halftime show for the next four years. Industry sources said last week that terms had been agreed to but that a deal was not complete.

Driving the deal is Pepsi’s desire to link its sports and music platforms with the biggest sports event in America. The idea is a seasonlong music and sports platform that could be leveraged at retail throughout the season and would culminate in the usual Super Bowl halftime appearance by a major musical act. Since the NFL kicks off its season in New York City this year, Pepsi undoubtedly would be involved in concerts there as well.

While the halftime show sponsorship comes packaged with ads at the beginning and end of the show, Pepsi is a perennial sponsor on what is always America’s highest-rated telecast. Musicians endorsing Pepsi over the years have included Michael Jackson, Christina Aguilera, Ray Charles and Britney Spears. Pepsi has been an NFL sponsor since 2002, and is in the first year of a renewal that makes it an NFL marketing partner for the next 10 years.

Bridgestone had sponsored the show since 2008, but dropped the deal to focus on year-round activation around its NFL rights.
Bridgestone sponsored the Super Bowl halftime show since 2008 and one source put the deal at upward of $7 million a year. The company believed the deal achieved good lift in sales, brand awareness and purchase consideration. However, it was unable to fashion comprehensive retail activation, something Pepsi should be able to improve upon given the broad retail footprint with the salty snack and beverage area. Last month, Bridgestone finalized an extension and dropped its halftime show sponsorship in favor of what it said will be a more year-round activation of its NFL rights.

Pepsi was the last Super Bowl halftime show sponsor prior to Bridgestone, underwriting a memorable 2007 set by Prince in heavy rain in Miami during Super Bowl XLI.

The connection to music follows an industry trend. Rival Coca-Cola is linking the power of music to its International Olympic Committee sponsorship of the London Olympics this summer, with a “Move to the Beat” campaign. The effort, with Katy B and five Olympic athletes, will run in 30 countries. Among Pepsi’s summer music marketing offerings is a Twitter-based campaign that will offer free music downloads. Pepsi also is sponsoring a series of concerts across the country during which the company’s Twitter followers will be able to vote on the set list.

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“They always talk about the ‘Power of One’ at Pepsi in combining marketing across snack foods and beverages,” said one marketer with knowledge of the deal. “Along those lines, the concept is combining the power of music and sports. The NFL also wants a music platform to extend their reach into entertainment, so it should be an interesting one to watch and see what develops.”

Of course, the fact that the 2014 Super Bowl is in Pepsi’s headquarters market of New York didn’t hurt, either.

While not involved in the deal, Octagon CEO Rick Dudley said his client base, traditionally oriented toward sports marketing, is increasingly looking to music and entertainment.

“Brands are looking to manage their sponsorship portfolios so they have sports along with music and entertainment,” said Dudley, noting Octagon is hosting an entertainment marketing conference for clients this week in Los Angeles. “Entertainment and music is about 30 percent of what we do now, and I can see it getting to 40 percent soon. It’s all about creating content platforms to tie into consumer passion points.”