In its 10th year as the official sponsor of the Super Bowl Halftime Show, Pepsi is going big—and long.
The beverage brand is essentially turning the 2021 Super Bowl performance, which this year will feature three-time Grammy winner The Weeknd, into a national marketing push involving a TV spot, new website and special product packaging.
“We’re putting all our muscle behind the Halftime Show this year,” Todd Kaplan, Pepsi’s vp of marketing, said. “We’re expanding the 12 minutes of entertainment into a multi-platform, six-week campaign.”
It kicks off with a 60-second ad, titled “Get Ready,” which shows various people singing and dancing to The Weeknd’s hit song Blinding Lights, along with an appearance by the artist himself. The commercial is scheduled to premiere this weekend during the NFL wild-card games.
For the first time, Pepsi is also placing a Halftime Show logo on its packaging. The limited-edition bottles and cans, available at retailers now, come with a QR code that directs shoppers to PepsiHalftime.com, a new site that contains behind-the-scenes footage and an augmented reality filter.
No Stand-alone Pepsi Super Bowl spot
The project was in development prior to the outbreak of Covid-19, but it is particularly fitting given the months people have spent in quarantine.
“We haven’t had live music all year,” Kaplan said. “So, rather than waiting until February 7 for the first big live music event of the year, we’re going to give access to build on that anticipation that consumers have right now.”
Unlike the past few years, Pepsi itself will not run a stand-alone spot during the Big Game, Kaplan added.
Questions of scheduling and tone linger
A handful of brands have already committed to running commercials during this year’s Super Bowl, which is taking place in Tampa, Fla. and scheduled to air Feb. 7 on CBS. But questions linger about what messages to deliver. Also, brands are anxious about how best to execute them given the pandemic, civil unrest, high unemployment and recent events in the nation’s capital.
“Obviously, 2020 has been a very difficult year for everybody,” Kaplan said. “And so, as with any marketing program, we’re going to make sure that it’s appropriate in how we want to talk to consumers and it strikes the right tone and balance with what everyone’s going through in the country.”
At the same time, Kaplan noted people want the “escapism that music provides.”
Last year’s Super Bowl, broadcast on Fox, garnered 102.1 million viewers across multiple platforms, making it 2020’s most-watched telecast. Parent company PepsiCo, which owns a range of popular food and beverage brands, aired five 30-second ads and one 60-second spot throughout the game. Jennifer Lopez and Shakira performed during the Halftime Show.