Pepsi's biggest bid to re-assume brand and cultural relevance begins this week under the rallying cry and new global tagline of "Live for Now." PepsiCo is looking to this new pop-culture-based campaign to deliver on executives' promise to reignite growth in the company's flagship beverage brand.
Songstress Nicki Minaj will be the initial poster child for the campaign, which will get going with a homepage takeover of Yahoo.com on Wednesday by Pepsi, which will cross-promote Pepsi Pulse, as Pepsi's website is branded, reflecting the interactive hub that will serve as the social-media nexus for Pepsi's campaign.
Pepsi is trying to reclaim its old role as not only a curator but an arbiter of music and other aspects of popular culture, the way it did with Michael Jackson ("choice of a new generation") in the 1980s and Britney Spears' dance routine (which famously made Bob Dole drool) in the 1990s.
"When [Pepsi] is at its best, it's telling people what's important in pop culture," Brad Jakeman, chief creative officer of PepsiCo Beverages America, told Reuters. "From a brand perspective, I want this brand to regain its rightful place as a true pop culture icon."
As PepsiCo's press release states, "'Life for Now' will invite and inspire Pepsi fans to live each moment to the fullest through a breadth of global, pop-culture platforms, including relationships with music and entertainment brand evangelists, digital innovation, epic events and unique partnerships. The multi-year campaign will launch first in the United States and begin to roll-out globally throughout 2012."
"The 'Live for Now' positioning will inform the way Pepsi behaves as a brand and is a fantastic filter through which to create exciting and innovative partnerships with some of the world's leading artists and entertainment properties," stated PepsiCo CMO Simon Lowden. "We are excited to be announcing a series of exclusive partnerships in the U.S. over the next few months that will breathe life into 'Live for Now' and offer one-of-a-kind experiences for our fans."
The "Live for Now" TV campaign will debut in the U.S. with a commercial starring Minaj on May 7th. PepsiCo is counting on Minaj's massive popularity to amplify the brand's pop-culture relevance as she sings her hit, Moment 4 Life. Other stars — in sports, music and beyond — will join the campaign, each enjoying a global stage as a Pepsi brand ambassador, for the first time, Pepsi implements a single, unified worldwide campaign.
Digital venues will be huge for Pepsi. Pepsi Pulse, as the brand wants consumers to call its website, has been turned into a curated, Tumblr-like dashboard of popular culture, integrating tweets, photos and news items from the entertainment world by their popularity. Celebrities will offer online "challenges," while Pepsi will promote about 50 events in key markets throughout the summer.
As part of the "Live for Now" platform in the U.S., the press release notes that Pepsi will present a series of exclusive pop-up, Twitter-enabled concerts this summer featuring major music artists: "Pepsi's first of its kind Twitter music partnership will enhance consumers' music experiences and bring them closer to what is hot in music today. The Twitter partnership will kick-off in the U.S. in early May."
Pepsi is also launching a version of Pepsi Pulse targeting bi-cultural, Hispanic consumers called "Mi Pepsi" that will feature relevant content for this audience.
The global campaign was created in partnership with an integrated cross-agency, multi-disciplinary team of Omnicom agencies, including Alma, BBDO Worldwide, OMD, Organic, TBWA Worldwide and TracyLocke Partners.
PepsiCo naturally has high hopes for the effort to boost the Pepsi brand, which dropped to third place among U.S. soft-drink brands in 2010 behind Coke and Diet Coke amid what was broadly regarded as an era of relative neglect of the brand as PepsiCo focused on other brands in its portfolio, especially those with a "better-for-you" cast.
But last year, PepsiCo executives re-committed to the Pepsi brand. The youthful "Live for Now" platform is the biggest evidence yet of their pledge, as the company spends an estimated half-billion dollars this year over last year on marketing several brands, especially Pepsi.
"Live for Now" also launches as the brand's biggest competitor, Coca-Cola, is revving up its global, music-based, youth-skewing campaign — "Move to the Beat" — ahead of the London 2012 Summer Olympics.