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Volume 20 No. 41
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Cleaning out the notebooks from NOLA: From Pepsi’s bash to A-B’s plans for ‘Superstition’

Pepsi’s Super Bowl Halftime Show sponsorship was the biggest part of its largest Super Bowl marketing spend ever. While Gatorade, Frito-Lay salty snacks and even Quaker Oats were in evidence, it was intriguing to see how so much of its support was behind the “blue can” core brand Pepsi.

“We had this recognition that our biggest brands should go with our biggest partnerships,” said Pepsi’s Adam Harter, vice president of consumer engagement, adding that Pepsi will get a lot of MLB support later this year. Pepsi’s amalgam of sports and music with its NFL Anthems program, its Drew Brees/One Direction ad, and the Beyoncé halftime performance also were notable, since so many big brands are trying to crack the code on combining sports and music properties.

“Success for us is being at the heart of pop culture,” said Harter, adding that retail activation, brand equity measures and social media “buzz” will be the three most important metrics in evaluating Pepsi’s Super Bowl marketing investment. “We are thinking a lot less about share of voice and a lot more about share of conversation.”

THE EQUALIZER: Steve Tisch, the New York Giants co-owner and film producer with hits such as “Forrest Gump” to his credit, said his next project is a remake of the 1980s TV show “The Equalizer.” Tisch said shooting would begin in Boston in April and would star Denzel Washington.

Tisch, who is the only NFL owner who lives in Los Angeles, said very little is occurring to bring the league back to the city after a two-decade absence. He said a stadium at Chavez Ravine is not necessarily the league’s dream site, contrary to popular wisdom. Many have speculated the league has wanted the site where the Dodgers currently play, but Tisch said the area, located in a residential neighborhood, would be problematic on Monday nights, when games would start at 5:30 p.m. local time.

STUFFING THANKSGIVING: One of the annual rites of Super Bowl week is when TV executives visit the NFL to plea for the biggest games on next year’s schedule. In recent years, the Thanksgiving games have drawn substantial interest and show radically different strategies by the networks.

Historically, network executives didn’t care about the matchup, believing a Thanksgiving Day rating remains consistent regardless of who’s playing — and that’s largely how CBS still views Thanksgiving. With that in mind, sources said the network pushed to carry the Raiders-Cowboys game in 2013, preferring to keep its marquee games for other weeks.

Fox, however, thinks differently. In recent years, it has pushed to get strong matchups on Thanksgiving. Last year, it had the Redskins-Cowboys game, a rivalry that draws good ratings. This year, sources said, Fox pushed for the scheduled Giants-Lions game, which would have high interest in New York, the country’s biggest TV market.

As the holder of the NFL’s only prime-time broadcast package, NBC pushes for top draws every week. Last year, for its inaugural Thanksgiving night game, it had Patriots-Jets, but it’s not clear who the broadcaster targeted for Thanksgiving next season.

LONG-TERM SUPERSTITION: Bud Light’s seasonlong NFL campaign from Steve Stoute’s Translation agency, which centered on NFL fans’ superstitions and the 1972 Stevie Wonder hit song of the same name, culminated in a performance by Wonder at the Bud Light Hotel Saturday in New Orleans and the musician’s appearance in two Super Bowl ads.

Could Anheuser-Busch extend its “superstition” platform to other sports?

“That’s something we are thinking about right now, because [superstition] is something that’s at the core of every sports fan,” said Bud Light Vice President Mike Sundet, seated in a faux football locker room within the Bud Light Hotel. Bud Light is aligned with A-B’s NFL sponsorship, while Budweiser is the A-B brand paired with MLB and NBA.

So what about applying it to A-B’s UFC or NHL team deals, since MillerCoors snatched away national NHL rights last season?

“We’re asking our agency that,” said Sundet, while acknowledging that superstition will be back as the NFL campaign next season. “The question is whether we would be diluting the [NFL] campaign if we did that.”