We discussed last week how Pepsi, embarrassed by having fallen to No. 3 in market share below Diet Coke, was launching a big new global ad campaign featuring Nicki Minaj, a Betsey Johnson cameo, and a back-from-the-dead Michael Jackson in an effort to get soda drinkers’ attention again. “While we might not be the leading cola, we have always behaved like we were,” the company’s new chief creative officer, Brad Jakeman, tells Ad Age, insisting that the new strategy is unlike the many that have come before it. “This brand does not need to be reinvented. It needs to be reignited.”
We should note that the format of this new “Live for Now” ad (which you can see below) has some of the epic trappings of this crazy four-parter that Jackson did back in 1987, albeit within a tidy 90 seconds. The two Pepsi-sipping protagonists appear first on a hot day in a Brooklyn-like urban environment, when suddenly the “moment” freezes, and they find themselves side-flashing, Lost-style, to a beach-volleyball scene, then a tomato fight, then a catwalk during a fashion show, then a Nicki Minaj concert, and the only way to break the spell that froze the world for them is to crack open another can of Pepsi. Will this capture the imaginations of a new generation of cola lovers? We’ll see.
The revived-Jackson spot is scheduled to air later this month, and from the discussion in the Ad Age article, it sounds like Jackson’s image is being used less to engage American nostalgia than it is to reconnect with a global audience, like China, where Jackson has always been a cross-cultural icon, and Pepsi is no doubt hoping its particular brand of sugar water can be as well.