Pepsi has generated a ton of buzz pre-Super Bowl LII with a sneak peek at its in-game ad, which brings back Cindy Crawford, who starred in the brand’s iconic 1992 Super Bowl spot, along with some other iconic celebrities it’s featured over the years. And that’s not all that PepsiCo has got going on around Super Bowl LII, of course.
Game Day will also see Justin Timberlake headline the Pepsi Super Bowl LII Halftime Show while actors Morgan Freeman and Peter Dinklage are starring in the first co-branded Super Bowl spot for two new products, Doritos Blaze and Mountain Dew Ice, among other PepsiCo activations this Super Bowl.
To walk us through the company’s biggest marketing event of the year, PepsiCo North America Beverages CMO Greg Lyons and Frito-Lay North America CMO Jennifer Saenz spoke with Brian Erdman, who leads Interbrand’s consumer branding practice.
To start off with the co-branded spot, what is the importance of the Doritos and Mountain Dew brands to the PepsiCo portfolio today, and where you hope they’ll be as a result of this combined campaign?
Jennifer Saenz (right): It’s a history-making event. We’re bringing the power of our full portfolio together when we bring Doritos and Dew together. They’re very iconic brands across the PepsiCo portfolio, and they’re complimentary. We do things with Doritos and Dew in the gaming space, they have a really similar and passionate fan base across the two brands. They’re found together in shoppers’ baskets more often than peanut butter and jelly are found together in those same shoppers’ baskets. So we know when they’re together it’s a really strong and powerful thing for consumers who love those two brands.
We’re basically taking our two biggest pieces of innovation: Doritos Blaze, which is a bold-flavored chip that brings the heat, with a nice hot spicy finish at the end, and partnering that with Mountain Dew Ice, which is a refreshing lime beverage with that kick of caffeine that you would expect from Mountain Dew. We’re really looking forward to driving awareness for these two pieces of innovation at the Super Bowl, that very big stage that people come into and actually are looking for the stories and the advertising that comes during the game.
Can you put this in the context of these brands’ participation in the Super Bowl in the past?
Jennifer Saenz: Doritos had about a 10-year run with the Crash the Super Bowl program, which was consumer-generated content where we asked our fan base to show us what they love about the Doritos brand in a 30-second ad, and we got some incredible content that typically was at the top of the Ad Meter every year of those 10 years.
Greg Lyons (right): And for Dew, in 2007 we ran a Chuck Norris ad in the Super Bowl and starting three years ago with the launch of Mountain Dew Kickstart we started advertising in the pre-game of the Super Bowl, and then two years ago we did “PuppyMonkeyBaby” to talk about Kickstart in the Super Bowl. Last year we had a hiatus, and this year we’re back with Mountain Dew Ice as part of this One campaign with Doritos Blaze. We’re going to partner all year long together, we have a summer program as well, and we’re going to do stuff separately too. The products go so incredibly well together it would be foolish not to market them together.
Let’s talk about Pepsi returning to the Super Bowl with an update on the iconic Cindy Crawford ad. How did you arrive at bringing Cindy into the spotlight again for the brand?
Greg: Pepsi has been part of the culture for the past 120 years, whether it’s music or sports or celebrity, and so we’re launching a new campaign that we’re going to kick off at the Super Bowl, called Pepsi Generations, and it’s celebrating our history in pop culture with some of the most famous partners we’ve ever had.
So as we announced, Cindy Crawford’s part of it, along with her son Presley, and it will also feature Michael Jackson, Britney Spears, Uncle Drew is going to be part of it, so it’s jam-packed with iconic artists that were part of our history and it’s going to end with a look forward at where we’re going as a brand as well.
It’s a full-year campaign with Pepsi, Diet Pepsi and Pepsi Zero Sugar in the Super Bowl ad and as part of the campaign going forward, and it’s going to be reinforced in-store.
We’re going to launch that iconic 80’s red, white and blue Pepsi cans in-store around the Super Bowl and bring the Pepsi Stuff promotion where you can win really cool Pepsi gear and experiences all year long. It’s just a wonderful, feel-good campaign, getting back to what we’re great at for Pepsi.
You mentioned just a few of the iconic celebrities and brand ambassadors that you’re worked with over the years, and you’ve also got Justin Timberlake, Morgan Freeman and Peter Dinklage in this Super Bowl. What have you learned about how to leverage this caliber of brand ambassadors over the years, to best leverage their personal brands and platforms as well as how do you choose who to partner who’s right for your brands?
Greg: Let me give you an example of how Jen and I arrived at using Morgan and Peter for our Doritos Blaze/Mountain Dew Ice ad. We obviously wanted someone with a fiery personality to encompass and represent Doritos Blaze, and Peter Dinklage was perfect for that, and we wanted someone cooler than cool to represent Mountain Dew Ice, and who’s cooler than Morgan Freeman? We’ve got them doing something that’s going to be really interesting to watch and it’s going to cut through and capture the attention and imagination of consumers.
When you get celebrities who really line up to the product experience or what the brand is standing for, then it works. If you’re just trying to get celebrities for celebrities sake, to try and get someone who people know or to try to make your brand cooler, then it doesn’t work as well. We carefully think through each of the talent that we sign for each of our brands to make sure that they represent what that brand stands for.
It’s no small investment to choose the right partner, so you have to be mindful of the ROI with those partnerships. With all of the activities across PepsiCo’s brands around this Super Bowl, how do you roll up the collective—as well as the individual brand—ROI, to set your expectations going in as well as the ROI on the back end? What are your KPIs, for instance, around something as huge as the Super Bowl?
Jennifer: It all depends on what is the business problem and the consumer problem that you’re trying to solve. In the case of Doritos Blaze and Mountain Dew Ice, one of the things we’re doing is driving awareness, so that will influence the metrics that we use to evaluate. Are we getting the levels of awareness to rise post-Super Bowl, are we getting the consumer awareness to rise around those brands and businesses?
Super Bowl is one of those vehicles that allows you to get a multiplier impact on excitement around it. When we talk about the Super Bowl internally with our sales teams, they get very excited about the products because they know that consumers are going to see it on the Super Bowl, they know that they have a great story to tell, and all of those intangibles really helps build on that excitement that’s driven within our internal system as well as with our customer base. It allows us to get great returns on the activities that we do.
Greg: We absolutely look at ROI, very diligently, around every marketing spend that we do. It depends on the sponsorship and the brand and what problem we’re trying to solve for how we measure that ROI. We wouldn’t participate in the Super Bowl if we didn’t get a very positive ROI from it, which we do.
For example, awareness isn’t an issue with Pepsi, so we measure brand love as a key metric, and buzz—positive buzz and sentiment—and obviously sales. If the reaction to the announcement around bringing back Cindy Crawford is any indication, I think those measures are going to move in the right direction.
From the customer experience perspective, what else has PepsiCo got going on around the Super Bowl event?
Jennifer: We have a number of things going on, specifically around Doritos Blaze and Mountain Dew Ice. The creative concept that you’ll see come to life has a lot of value for consumers and we’re going to invite them into this experience and ask them to engage with us on Snapchat post-game. So we’ll allow that experience to live on post-game.
We’ve also got our Tostitos brand, which brings people together, is doing a program called Super Bowl Ads For All, which brings together all of those stereotypical tropes and foils that you might see in a Super Bowl ad —celebrities, big explosions, talking babies, cute puppies, etc.—and it allows people to engage and create a personalized invite to their Super Bowl party, so we have some virtual ways to engage.
And on-site, at the actual Super Bowl, we’ll have different activations across our businesses, so what a perfect opportunity for Doritos Blaze to warm things up, so we’ll have some warming stations and lounges so people can get warm in Minneapolis.
Greg: As part of a lot of the parties around Super Bowl itself Mountain Dew Ice will be served while for the Pepsi brand, we’re going to have a really cool Google VR experience where you can drive a car through some of the past Pepsi moments, and we’ll have old vending machines and lots of fun and excitement around that program as well.
It’s important to do so much more to engage consumers than just run an ad—we want to engage them in-store, we want to engage them socially, digitally and of course in real life.
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