Super Bowl Q&A: Pepsi CMO Seth Kaufman & Frito-Lay CMO Jennifer Saenz

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Pepsi Super Bowl Halftime Show #SB51 Lady Gaga

The 2017 Super Bowl may be PepsiCo’s most ambitious engagement to date, including new on-air commercials, new brands, a slew of online initiatives, Lady Gaga’s Pepsi Halftime show and a multi-faceted activation on the ground for the longstanding NFL partner.

It’s also, in a first, spotlighting two zero-calorie products during this year’s game – LIFEWTR and Pepsi Zero Sugar, which gets top billing at the Pepsi Zero Sugar Super Bowl LI Halftime Show starring Lady Gaga (with a lead-in by Tony Bennett).

New premium bottled water brand LIFEWTR is getting an in-game spot featuring a tune by John Legend plus an on-site launch party (Art After Dark) headlined by Bruno Mars with DJ Khaled on the decks. And that’s just on the beverage side of the house.

After wrapping its decade-long Doritos Crash the Super Bowl user-generated ad contest last year, its Frito-Lay food division is highlighting the Tostitos brand in a unique collaboration that brings together Uber and MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) with Tennesse Titans pro football player Delanie Walker. The pro-social campaign aims to ensure Super Bowl watchers get home safely with an NFC-enabled “party safe” bag that will summon an Uber (and offer $10 off each ride) if it detects alcohol on a person’s breath.

A unified pre-Game Day campaign for Pepsi and Tostitos starring NFL pros includes the Super Bowl Party Planner spots starring Denver Broncos MVP linebacker Von Miller and the Party Pooper videos with the delightfully deadpan Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, plus the Pepsi-only #BreatkOutThePepsi with the New England Patriots’ Stephen Gostkowski.

In addition to bringing back the Tostitos Cantina to feed fans in Houston, PepsiCo is teaming with Tastemade, “one of the hottest names in food media,” and challenging three chefs to create the ultimate Super Bowl party dish using PepsiCo food and beverage products, which are being promoted with more than 30,000 point-of-sale in-store displays.

Pepsi will partner with Snapchat for live content and lenses in-game during Super Bowl LI. And as part of its multi-brand marketing, Gatorade will be making its 34th Super Bowl appearance as an official NFL sponsor.

Mountain Dew, meanwhile, is introducing two new soft drink flavors (Raspberry Citrus and Mango Lime) along with an on-the-ground augmented reality (AR) experience in Houston — a mirror that lets fans create their own mascot in a virtual world, a 360-degree branding its new “Feel Gravity Turn Off” spot reinforces.

For more insights on the Game Day (and beyond) playbook for Super Bowl LI, Interbrand NY/SF managing director Daniel Binns chatted with Seth Kaufman, CMO of Pepsi Beverages North America, and Jennifer Saenz, CMO of Frito-Lay North America.

Daniel Binns: This a complex integrated set of initiatives that you’re doing. How do you manage that and make sure that all your agency partners and different parts of your business are all operating in a way that insures you get a truly seamless experience across all these different touchpoints?

Seth Kaufman - Chief Marketing Officer, PepsiCo North America BeveragesSeth Kaufman (right): We like to think about it as operating in a media-to-shelf way. If we’re doing our jobs well, all our teams, Jen’s team, my team, we’re really partnering and working together to make sure that what consumers are seeing at the moment of choice, which is what we call it when they’re in the stores, is not only inspiring them there but that any other content that they see elsewhere provides tailwind to that moment of choice experience.

That’s something we’ve been doing for a few years and we’re always fine-tuning. We feel that by bringing the brands together, by really thinking about it in a true media-to-shelf way, it leads to great success that we hope will only grow and continue into the future.

Jennifer Saenz - SVP, Chief Marketing Officer at Frito-Lay North AmericaJennifer Saenz (right): Part of the magic for what PepsiCo is able to do at the Super Bowl comes from that long-standing relationship we have with the NFL. Over 30 years of going to the Super Bowl and understanding the dynamic of what happens means that rather than being a rookie at the experience and learning the ropes, year over year we’ve been able to approach things differently and really understand the details, all the different avenues a story can take. The Super Bowl allows us to create those very immersive experiences. It takes a lot of coordination but the magic really comes with those experiences we’re leveraging.

Daniel Binns: The Super Bowl is still such an enormous media vehicle, but in a world where we’re increasingly getting one-to-one marketing and personalized experiences and we’re trying to focus on dialogue and customer engagement, is it still the pre-eminent vehicle that it was?

Seth Kaufman: The NFL is one of our most important partners and the Super Bowl is one of the most important platforms for us for the year. It’s really not about that Sunday alone, but it’s about months and months of activity leading in. Between our food and beverage brands which are consumed together at home, we’ve had 30,000 retail displays out there themed around Super Bowl. We’ve had our full portfolio of products out there for consumers to engage in. And then on the day itself, it’s obviously a huge day and a lot of consumers paying attention.

From a beverage perspective we’re really proud, because we’ve been evolving our portfolio for over two decades to offer choice to consumers. This is actually the first time, ever, that we will have only zero sugar products on the Super Bowl, both with our integration into the half-time with Pepsi Zero Sugar, and then we’ll also be introducing the world to our new premium bottled water, LIFEWTR. So it’s a huge platform for us to take our priorities and put them out there for consumers to connect and engage in, and then obviously gets activated at retail for months and months leading in with Pepsi and Tostitos, for example.

PepsiCo LIFEWTR

Jennifer Saenz: One of the important goals is creating conversations and really being part of what’s relevant and what consumers are talking about, and that’s what our longstanding relationship with the NFL has allowed us to do. We’ve really partnered very closely with the NFL and with the Super Bowl when we know consumers are engaging with that.

With Tostitos as the official chip of the NFL we’ve been able to do a season-long engagement program with Pepsi where we’ve been able to deliver unreal experiences to consumers with the help of some NFL players and other great experiences.

Certainly, when we think about the culmination of the Super Bowl season and how Tostitos could be involved in that, we had the concept of really encouraging consumers as they think about the Big Game on Super Bowl Sunday how they could ‘party safe’ and think about their ride home. With this partnership with MADD and Uber, we hope to encourage 25,000 consumers to take a safe ride home after their party.

Tostitos Super Bowl LI 217 Party Safe bag MADD Uber

Daniel Binns: It’s interesting, both of those things you talk about—providing choice and this being a platform for launching some health-centric beverage products along with the pro-social component with the partnership with MADD and Uber. Is this a turning point for PepsiCo as a business or is this just a great opportunity to leverage the access you have in the Super Bowl?

Seth Kaufman: It all comes down to being in touch with consumer demand and where consumer attention is. You’ve seen from us for many, many years and you’ll continue to see from us this year and into the future that we’re in tune with what consumers want from a product perspective. And we’re very much in tune with how consumers attend to what’s in the Game or the conversation around the Game.

Let me just use the example of the Halftime Show. This is a 12 and a half-minute brand integration for Pepsi Zero Sugar. It’s not just about what’s happening on the main screen as it’s a digital conversation as well. Like we did last year, where we will be taking pieces of the set and auctioning it off to consumers. It goes back to what Jen said around conversation—it goes back to being in-touch and in-tune with how consumers engage with product and content and making sure we’re being as relevant as we can be around both.

Pepsi Half Time Super Bowl 51 Lady Gaga

Daniel Binns: In treating the Super Bowl as a touchpoint in a much larger ecosystem, how do you approach the pre-, during and post- elements in an activation of this scale and nature?

Jennifer Saenz: When you think about the full spectrum of how you can activate something like this, the Doritos Crash the Super Bowl program that we did over the past 10 years is a great example of how you can use that storyline. We engaged with consumers very early on in the season and created a sense of excitement and momentum. It had a call to action with consumers to create assets for us and then put that content on air.

The little-known story behind Crash the Super Bowl is that it was all consumer-generated content. What that allowed us to do is was tap in and create a whole network that we’re continuing to build on with Doritos Legion of the Bold (creative challenge). It’s a year-long engagement platform where we give consumers the opportunity to create assets for Doritos. That’s a really great example of how we took the Super Bowl and really embedded it into the storyline and that broader narrative with some humor.

Stuntin backstage, #SuperBowl #halftime rehearsal break. It's gonna be only family on that stage. ❤️

A post shared by xoxo, Joanne (@ladygaga) on

Seth Kaufman: If you think about something like the Super Bowl Halftime Show, obviously Lady Gaga is an iconic artist who’s going to put on an amazing show. We’ve been engaging her ‘Little Monsters’ (fans) from the very beginning. We launched a guest of honor consumer engagement program to give the fans a chance to go to Houston and watch Lady Gaga perform live from the field. We’ve been doing lots of behind-the-scenes stuff where her fans can see what it’s truly like to make something like the Super Bowl Halftime Show and everything that goes into it.

We will be doing a 10-second lead-in to the show itself which will feature her Little Monsters as well as one of her biggest fans and partners, Tony Bennett, and that will kick into the show itself, which will obviously be amazing, and there will be ways to continue the conversation from the show, with things like auctioning off part of the set to her fans.

For us it’s really important that it become holistic and all-encompassing rather than just a specific moment in time, because that’s how consumers live their lives today.

Daniel Binns: PepsiCo has been a long-time proponent of celebrity endorsements. In world of dialogue and content, do you still think that celebrity endorsements are even more of an important vehicle for driving brand preference?

Seth Kaufman: How we leverage and engage with celebrities has evolved over time, as it should. Take John Legend as an example. As we introduce the world to this new premium bottled water, LIFEWTR, in a spot called Inspiration Drops, it has an inspired version of John’s song Love Me Now, and what you’ll see in the piece of work is the song, the interpretation of the song, is very much in line with how this brand comes to life.

So it’s not just a celebrity being dropped in somewhere but it’s very authentic for the brand. I’ll even go further and say ‘celebrities’ and having the right authentic connections goes well beyond a single name. So the spot itself for LIFEWTR was directed by the amazing Robert Stromberg, who has won two Academy Awards for visual effects — he’s a visual effects genius who did the effects for Avatar and The Martian and directed Maleficent.

For us, having him direct this spot is a great authentic way to bring a brand that is all about the fusion of creativity and design to life in a way that not only will help hydrate our consumers but also inspire them. So certainly it’s important to leverage celebrities who consumers will connect with, but it’s important how we do that — and it has to be in an authentic way or consumers will see right through that.

Jennifer Saenz: Consumers really engage in a conversation when they see multiple layers, multiple avenues that interest them, and they see a way in that truly appeals to them. Where we’re partnering a part of the ‘Party Safe’ program is Delanie Walker of the Tennessee Titans is helping us with the MADD sponsorship on the bag.

He was in the Super Bowl in 2013 and unfortunately on the way home from that Super Bowl his aunt and uncle were killed by a drunk driver. So this is a purpose that’s near and dear to his heart. It’s a very authentic message, and it’s something where that statement makes a lot of sense. What we really strive for at PepsiCo when we’re searching for engagement from a known person is how do we make a very authentic link and make sure that that storyline is something that consumers can engage with.

Daniel Binns: Talk about the Tastemade activation—is this a move to combine the two areas of PepsiCo, the food and the beverage sides of the company? I know you’ve done that before, so is this an acceleration of that joint effort?

Jennifer Saenz: We’ve been on that path of joining forces for our food and beverage businesses for decades. It’s something that we are very conscious of and we’re continuing to partner. In particular at the moment of truth, at retail, it’s really where we see massive power in bringing those brands together. It’s where we’ve got 30,000 point of sale displays talking about how our products are really made for Super Bowl and the perfect complement to your Super Bowl party.

Seth Kaufman: The core insight is that a lot of these products are consumed together. Food and football are also two of the hottest areas for content. So as we think about how our food and beverage brands can organically integrate with one another and their key ingredients, that’s why this effort with Tastemade is so exciting, because it brings our brands together in a way that is very natural and authentic for consumers.

It features great new recipes that are inspired by culinary geniuses. Consumers are really into content that brings that to life, and I think we’re doing it in a fun way that’s very real in terms of football and how these different dishes are being consumed at Super Bowl parties, etc.

Daniel Binns: How does this Super Bowl campaign fit within PepsiCo’s ‘Performance With Purpose’ guiding principles and the related 2025 goals that, as CEO Indra Nooyi has championed, are driving the company and your brands?

Seth Kaufman: On the beverage side, consumer tastes continue to evolve. We have transformed to keep up with those consumers tastes for over two decades. Our goal in beverages is that by 2025, two-thirds of our global beverage volume will have fewer than 100 calories of added sugar per 12 ounces. That’s important because that’s what consumers are moving towards.

So when you think about one of the biggest advertising and/or consumer engagement platforms of the year, you think Super Bowl. It is a huge statement that for the first time ever, we’re putting two zero sugar, zero calorie products on the Super Bowl, and that’s it from a beverage perspective.

It is very much in line with what Indra has talked about in terms of where our portfolio has to go, and it comes back to the fact that we do an exceptional job as a company keeping up with changing consumer demand, and more than ever, we understand the nuances of where consumers are going, and it’s because of that we’re prioritizing the brands that we are.

Daniel Binns: And this is the first time it’s been branded the Pepsi Zero Sugar Halftime Show instead of the Pepsi Halftime Show?

Seth Kaufman: Since we have been the partner for the halftime show it has been Pepsi throughout, so yes. We’re really excited about it and fans have reacted quite well to it. It’s a great vehicle to drive awareness for this new Pepsi Zero Sugar platform.

Daniel Binns: What are you doing on-site for fans who are there in Houston on Game Day?

Jennifer Saenz: We are going to be doing the Tostitos Cantina (named for the chip), very similar to what we we’ve done in years past. Consumers can come by and see some NFL players and have conversations with some Hall of Famers and other folks from the NFL. We also want to make sure that people enjoy some Tostitos products while they’re at the game as well.

Seth Kaufman: One of the things we’re most excited about on-site is on February 3rd, the Friday before Super Bowl, we’re partnering with the ultimate traveling nightclub, Club Nomadic, and we’re creating an inspiring entertainment experience that includes music, technology and art that’s called Art After Dark. Bruno Mars is headlining it with a special performance by DJ Khaled, and it sold out literally in minutes.

LIFEWTR Art After Dark Super Bowl LI 2017 Club Nomadic Houston

We’re creating a fully immersive experience for our new LIFEWTR platform so the different artists will be featured there with different pieces of art and in a very experiential way with art jumping off the bottles. It will give fans an opportunity to not only take part in an unbelievable show but also building this awareness around LIFEWTR. (See more work-in-progress and design concepts below.)

In the past, when you would do an on-site activation you would affect just the consumers that were there. Today, living in world where everything is Instagramable and Snapchatable, the impact that we can have with something like this LIFEWTR Club Nomadic be huge beyond just the activation there.

One of the reasons that we continue to invest in local activations and why we make them very immersive, so that the fans there will share what they’re experiencing and allow us to have a bigger impact beyond Houston.

Club Nomadic LIFEWTR Art After Dark 2017 Super Bowl design concept

Club Nomadic LIFEWTR Art After Dark 2017 Super Bowl design concept


Click here for more on Super Bowl 51 and here for more branding insider Q&As.

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