Super Bowl

Pepsi Storms Back Into the Super Bowl

Sets Consumer-Generated Push for Pepsi Max on Advertising's 'Largest Stage'

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NEW YORK ( -- Pepsi is back in the big game.

After a year-long hiatus, the beverage giant is coming back with three 30-second spots supporting Pepsi Max, and will be taking a page from sibling Dorito's playbook with a "Crash the Super Bowl" campaign.

"NFL and the Super Bowl is just, absolutely, the best stage to get our zero-calorie message out for Pepsi Max. We are restaging the Pepsi Max brand and putting a tremendous amount of resources behind it, and we couldn't think of a better place to get that message out," said Jill Beraud, chief marketing officer, PepsiCo Beverages Americas. "Given the tremendous success Doritos has had with this platform we were thrilled to partner with them."

The joint "Crash the Super Bowl" effort is being billed as the company's largest Power of One partnership ever. Joint in-store promotions for the two brands are planned. In addition to three spots for Pepsi Max, Doritos will also have three 30-second spots.

Doritos first "crashed" the Super Bowl back in 2007 when its consumer-created spot placed fourth on the USA Today Ad Meter. In 2008, the brand held a music-video contest, but it also ran a consumer-generated spot from the 2007 contest and landed the No. 4 spot on the popular poll again. Last year, Doritos spiced things up by dangling a $1 million prize if the ad were to top the meter. The spot ranked second to a Snickers ad featuring Betty White.

Ann Mukherjee, CMO-Frito Lay North America, said that Doritos continues to run the campaign because consumers respond to it. The number of entries has continued to rise, she said, as have sales of Doritos. According to IRI data provided by PepsiCo, Doritos sales during the two weeks leading into the Super Bowl jumped 15% to $38.7 million.

But, after five years, aren't consumers tired of consumer-generated ads? PepsiCo doesn't think so. "Our fans keep coming back to us and telling us to come back and do it. When they tell us it's no longer what they're looking for we'll move on to the next thing," Ms. Mukherjee said. "We've never done this because there was a consumer-generated fad. It's the largest stage possible when it comes to advertising and letting people be discovered."

This year's contest will take that idea of discovery one step further, awarding an ad contract to the consumer whose ad ranks the highest on the ad meter. The contract will be for a joint Pepsi Max and Doritos ad that will run in 2011.

PepsiCo is also again sweetening the deal by dangling plenty of cold, hard cash. Consumers stand to win up to $5 million if their ads take the Nos. 1, 2 and 3 slots on the ad meter.

It's a lot of money to spend on the Super Bowl, when, just a year ago, Pepsi beverages didn't advertise during the game, in favor of supporting the soft-drink marketer's Refresh program, which awards grants to consumers who want to refresh their communities. "We have the benefit of being able to support both," said Ms. Beraud. "We'll continue to support the Pepsi Refresh Project with the same amount of support as we did last year. We're just really doubling down on Pepsi Max this year."

Pepsi Max has been getting increased attention in the U.S. as the brand looks to replicate its success overseas. It's a billion-dollar brand for PepsiCo, though, in the U.S. it is only the 12th largest cola brand, according to Beverage Digest. Since relaunching the brand with new graphics and marketing this summer, volume has been up 44%, according to the company.

It won't be Pepsi Max's first time at the big game. Last year the company promoted the brand as the "diet cola for men" in a Super Bowl effort dubbed "I'm Good" from TBWA /Chiat/Day. Goodby Silverstein & Partners handles the Doritos brand.

Both brands say their agencies will help to orchestrate the promotion of the contest and stress that their roles are not diminished as a result of the consumer-generated nature of the effort. Both agencies, along with Betty White, are hosting a kick-off event in Los Angeles today for the promotion. Consumers can upload 30 second spots to between Sept. 27 and Nov. 15.

Ten finalists will be announced in January 2011, five for each brand. Ultimately, consumers will select two Doritos spots and two Pepsi Max spots, while PepsiCo executives will select one spot for each brand, for a total of six Super Bowl spots. The finalists will each win $25,000 and be invited to watch the Super Bowl from a private suite, where they will find out the winners.

Prize money awarded to the winners will be based on each ad's ranking on the ad meter. One million dollars goes to an ad placing first, $600,000 if an ad places second and $400,000 to an ad that snags the third slot on the ranking. If ads from the contest sweep the top three rankings, an additional $1 million bonus will be awarded to each of the three winners.

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