Pepsi taps Super Bowl halftime show star The Weeknd in new ad teasing the big event

The Weeknd in Pepsi’s “Get Ready” ad.


Pepsi’s halftime show may star The Weeknd, but the company hopes its new campaign will create buzz for the show the entire month.

The PepsiCo beverage brand is replacing its traditional Super Bowl ad slot with a new campaign to leading up to its halftime show featuring the musician.

Pepsi, which will be sponsoring the Super Bowl’s halftime show for the tenth year, said this marks the first time the company has featured its halftime show talent in a commercial. It’s also the first time it’s done a commercial promoting the halftime show. The campaign will kick off with a commercial during the NFL playoff games this weekend. 

“Brands are always typically falling over themselves to get a 30 [second spot] and do something fun on social and try to connect and cut through,” Pepsi VP of Marketing Todd Kaplan told CNBC in an interview.  “We’re really going to take the experience from 12 minutes into six weeks.”

For companies, the game represents a rare opportunity to capture the country’s attention at once, one made even rarer in after a year that saw countless live events cancelled, delayed or otherwise impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Companies including M&M‘s, Pringles, Toyota and TurboTax have already said they’re advertising during the game. But this year’s event will be one unlike any other for brands, which will have to hit the right tone in their marketing as the pandemic rages on and political tensions potentially tone down following the presidential transition.

Kaplan said the company is taking an optimistic tack with its own ad. The spot features people restocking grocery shelves, blow drying their hair, cleaning their pool and doing other solo activities while dancing along to or all-out belting out The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights,” which was released in 2019 and was Billboard’s “No. 1 Hot 100 Song of the Year” in 2020.

“I do think though consumers now are really looking for optimism and kind of a bit of escapism, you know, given what everyone’s been through it,” Kaplan said. “I think no matter what the nation is going through … people like music. It’s a little escapism, and just enjoyment in everyday life, showing these everyday moments.” 

Pepsi’s campaign will include the TV spot, a digital push, and packaging on 500 million bottles and cans with a QR code that leads to a website with branded content and augmented reality experiences. It will also have retail promotions with store displays in locations of stores including Kroger, Target, 7-Eleven, Dollar General.

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