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Volume 21 No. 1
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Full line of Pepsi beverages to get NFL push

Pepsi is mounting what it’s calling its biggest NFL marketing offensive yet. For the first time, the company will link America’s biggest sports property with all of its Pepsi-branded beverages — Pepsi, Pepsi Max, Pepsi Next and Diet Pepsi.

It also will get the first opportunity for a sponsor to market the Super Bowl Halftime concert over the entire season. That’s because Grammy-winning singer Bruno Mars was slated to be announced as the halftime headliner for Super Bowl XLVIII live in-studio during Fox’s pregame show on Sunday. Last year, Beyoncé was announced as the headliner for the halftime show in mid-October, and Madonna’s halftime appearance at Super Bowl XLVI in 2012 wasn’t official until December 2011.

Pepsi hopes to take advantage of the early announcement with five months worth of “consumer engagement opportunities” around the show. What will be billed as “Bruno Mars and Friends” will allow Pepsi to generate considerable consumer interest and Web traffic as additional artists are revealed. Consumers are also expected to be able to win access to rehearsals and other behind-the-scenes opportunities.

It is unclear if Pepsi will sign a marketing deal directly with Mars, which would then fully integrate the pop-culture phenom into Pepsi’s marketing. Pepsi was negotiating with Beyoncé last year even before she was signed to do the

Pepsi will build toward its Super Bowl halftime after heading back to football with the Giants and other team accounts.
Super Bowl.

“Super Bowl Halftime this past season generated 5 billion brand impressions,” said Adam Harter, Pepsi vice president of consumer engagement, who directs the brand’s sports and entertainment marketing. “This year, we wanted to start that conversation right at Sunday’s kickoff and take it through to the most watched musical event of the year. Announcing the halftime talent sooner extends our ability to leverage the NFL. New York is Pepsi’s home, so there are certainly high expectations here. Now, we have to deliver on those.”

Sources said that after the Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium, Pepsi can opt out of its four-year halftime show sponsorship, which is separate from its leaguewide rights deal. So there’s pressure on the NFL to deliver as well.

In recent years Pepsi, an NFL corporate sponsor since 2002, has harnessed the marketing power of the NFL to tout its smaller but growing categories like Diet Pepsi and Pepsi Max, hoping to blunt Coke’s advances in those market segments.

“We’re looking to broaden our leveraging of the NFL,” said Harter. “As the property has grown and the fan base has grown, we realized we were missing an opportunity to speak to a larger percentage of that fan base. We’re trying to reach all types of fans: casual to hard-core; the male 18-to-24 drinking Pepsi Max and we also want to speak to the female NFL fans who consume Diet Pepsi, and the Hispanics that overindex against Max.”

Meanwhile, in the first year of its 10-year NFL renewal, Pepsi will have rights to players from every NFL team in uniform. A new “Are You Fan Enough?” thematic gets dedicated creative, and a Parking Lot Heroes bus tour in which fans outside of NFL venues in Baltimore, New York, New England, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Miami, Dallas, Charlotte and Jacksonville will be asked to deliver messages to their favorite teams. The best message will then be played on stadium scoreboards.