PepsiMax Taps Mark Sanchez to Debut NFL Ad Blitz

Brand Took Over Sponsorship From Pepsi Late Summer

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Pepsi Max is the official soft drink of the NFL. Who knew?

PepsiCo transitioned the sponsorship from Pepsi to Pepsi Max late this summer. The move coincided with the relaunch of Pepsi Max. Until this point the brand has been promoting the sponsorship primarily with in-stadium signage and other team-specific promotions. But that's about to change.

A campaign featuring Mark Sanchez, quarterback of the New York Jets, is set to launch on Thanksgiving Day. "Winning Formula" will premiere during the Patriots vs. Lions, Saints vs. Cowboys and Bengals vs. Jets games. Several other players will be featured in additional spots, though Pepsi declined to reveal who those players would be. TBWA/Chiat/Day handled creative, while Joe Pytka directed.

The ad features the Pepsi Max driver training with Mr. Sanchez, as he attempts to make the soda the "Official Soft Drink of the NFL." To support the campaign, Pepsi Max will be doing extensive sampling at each of the three games carrying the spot. In addition, at the Jets game, the Pepsi Max driver will be doing the coin toss, as well as participating in the half-time show. Mr. Sanchez, for his part, is giving away autographed items via Twitter and Facebook, as well as tweeting about the commercial shoot.

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Pepsi Max: Winning Formula

Pepsi Max declined to say what it was spending on the effort. In 2009, the brand spent $21 million on measured media in the U.S., according to Kantar Media. Through August it spent $13 million.

This summer Pepsi Max began running a comparative ad that took aim at Coke Zero. The ad was a remake of a 1995 spot and included a Pepsi Max driver and a Coke Zero driver sampling the competition.

In September, PepsiCo announced its beverages would be back in the Super Bowl with a Pepsi Max and Doritos promotion. As part of a "Crash the Super Bowl" effort, consumers could upload 30-second spots at crashthesuperbowl.com between Sept. 27 and Nov. 15.

So far the brand's efforts seem to be paying off. According to Pepsi, PepsiMax volume is up 63% in measured channels since the relaunch.

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