No, it's not a stunt to hype the online jobs site or "Cloverfield," which opened last week. This "Gift Monster" comes courtesy of Pepsi-Cola Co. to call attention to a Pepsi Stuff giveaway it's touting as its biggest promotion ever. The character will appear at events in New York and at the Super Bowl, as well as in a commercial created by Omnicom Group's BBDO and slated to premiere following the Super Bowl.
"The idea for the monster came out of some of the creative from BBDO," said Bill Wyman, senior marketing manager-brand activation at Pepsi-Cola North America. "It really tied into the overall theme of our promotion. As we were thinking about how to show people the scale and size of the program, we kept coming back to 'This program is really a monster.'"
In the first of several marketing initiatives, the 60-foot inflatable Gift Monster will make its way through the city, making a dozen stops before reaching Times Square today. At each stop, a crew will give away Pepsi Stuff points and merchandise. The monster and its crew will then head south to make an appearance at the Super Bowl.
"We're anticipating enormous crowds who are going to be insatiable, in terms of the items they're being given," said Patrick West, VP-experiential marketing at Zoom Media & Marketing, the company that is executing the program on the ground. "When word starts spreading that Pepsi is giving these things of value away, it will -- hopefully -- be a mild frenzy."
An unplanned tie-in with the movie "Cloverfield," which revolves around a monster attacking New York and was released Jan. 18, probably will help boost buzz as well. "It's a coincidence," Mr. Wyman said. "But it sure is going to help what we're trying to accomplish, which is create a lot of buzz and excitement for our program."
Following the Super Bowl, the Gift Monster commercial will break. The flight schedule was not available at press time, although Mr. Wyman said the commercial will hit within a day or two of the game. The spot features a computer-generated monster that appears where people are drinking Pepsi and hands out an array of merchandise.
"The time is right for this type of program," said Mr. Wyman, noting this is the fifth iteration of the Pepsi Stuff program. "Continuity programs are obviously expensive, so if you're going to do it, you need to have a really compelling hook to make it work. The big hook is the availability of MP3 music, which in the music industry is a huge breakthrough."
On Jan. 14, Pepsi announced it had partnered with Amazon.com in the program, which allows consumers to collect points and redeem them for music from Amazon MP3. Pepsi also will be giving away CDs, DVDs, Pepsi merchandise, trips, electronics and cash.
To promote the music aspect of the program, Justin Timberlake will appear in a spot that will run during the big game. "It's pretty clear that Justin Timberlake is the biggest name in music today," Mr. Wyman said. "He's instantly recognizable. It's the right face for us to put forward."