How Pepsi changed its Super Bowl commercial strategy

Pepsi marked a shift in its marketing strategy with the reveal of the new Super Bowl LV commercial, which makes use of the Super Bowl half-time performer for the first time.

In January 2021, Pepsi revealed the new Super Bowl LV commercial. The commercial marked a change in the marketing strategy that the soda company has been using to promote its Super Bowl half-time specials. Pepsi opted to use the musical performer in the commercial, which was a first since the company started sponsoring the half-time performances more than ten years ago.

The company previously offered a commercial that was star-studded as a build-up to the Super Bowl, and to spark speculation on who would perform. Some of the celebrities that have featured in some of Pepsi’s most iconic commercials include Britney Spears, P!nk, Beyoncé, Cardi B and Steve Carrell. However, despite the use of leading A-listers, it did not guarantee that they would perform on the half-time stage, as Beyoncé has performed twice since featuring in her first Pepsi commercial over 17 years ago. The Lemonade creator only marked her first half-time performance in 2013.

This year will be the first time that the Super Bowl will be hosted differently, due to the pandemic. The aforementioned is reason enough for companies that take advantage of the advertising aspect of the Super Bowl to capitalise on the build-up to the event, rather than the actual event. Therefore, the use of The Weeknd in the actual commercials leading up to the event on Sunday, 7 February 2021, will encourage more viewers to watch the performance and promote the brand at the same time.

In an interview with CNBC on Friday, 8 January 2021, Pepsi’s Vice-President (VP) of Marketing, Todd Kaplan explained the change in the marketing strategy. He stated, “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… We’re really going to take the experience from 12 minutes into six weeks.”