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Pepsi Breaks Largest-Ever Global Campaign For Soccer

'Now Is What You Make It' Will Cover About 100 Markets

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Pepsi may not be an official sponsor of the World Cup, but it's going big with its first global campaign for soccer.

Pepsi has long run an annual soccer push. But in the last few years, the company has shifted its brands into a global structure and broke its first global campaign for brand Pepsi two years ago. The new soccer push, called "Now is what you make it," marks the largest global effort yet for both the brand and the company: about 100 markets will implement some aspect of the effort. It's a play on the brand's "Live For Now" effort introduced in 2012 and breaks the same day as World Cup sponsor and rival Coca-Cola's soccer campaign.

"Now is what you make it" includes 30- and 60-second spots, as well as a two-minute interactive video that allows consumers to unlock an additional four minutes of content. The campaign was shot in Brazil, which will host the World Cup beginning in June.

Stony, a YouTube personality known for putting together digital beats, stars in the spot. But in the campaign he comes across an "everyman," an intentional approach for a brand known for its celeb-studded campaigns.

Kristin Patrick
Kristin Patrick

"Celebrity is always going to be an element of this brand. It's definitely part of our DNA, and we're not walking away from that at all, but the idea of making things relatable for this new generation of consumers is really important," said Kristin Patrick, global CMO at Pepsi. "We thought there was something [powerful] about Stony, his social-media following and finding someone who could unite all these personalities."

The commercials feature a number of Pepsi's soccer stars, such as Leo Messi, Sergio Ramos and Jack Wilshere, as well as singer Janelle Monae performing her take on David Bowie's "Heroes." In all, Pepsi has 19 players on its roster and local markets are given the option to feature players that will resonate in their markets.

In North America, the campaign will feature Seattle Sounders star Clint Dempsey. Though "Now is what you make it" will have a presence in the U.S., it will not likely be to same extent as overseas. "Football is just not as big of a cultural moment in this country, though it is on the rise," Ms. Patrick said. "As a new generation learns to love the sport, it will increase in popularity."

Another aspect of the campaign is "The Art of Football," a series of portraits created with photographer Danny Clinch and street artists from the home countries of several of Pepsi's soccer players. The results are being used in out-of-home executions.

"What's different about this campaign is we're approaching it like the launch of a film," said Ms. Patrick. "There are a series of launches and announcements, with something happening almost every month," she said. "It's very much about this deep pool of content and immersing the brand very deeply in culture and football."

180 LA handled the creative without going through a pitch process ( Pepsi has taken to using a variety of agencies from a roster of Omnicom shops in recent years.) The agency had an advantage in that it has soccer roots, having worked with Adidas for years, she said. "We were very focused on using an agency that really had strong work around football and had done more in this area," said Ms. Patrick. "We have a relationship with Omnicom, but we also tap into creative as we see fit, and they were one of the strongest agencies around football."

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