Super Bowl ad teaser season is in full-swing, with brands such as Bud Light, Snickers, Mercedes-Benz and Victoria's Secret all releasing videos in recent days in an attempt to win the ad game before the big game.
But one brand has been at it for months: Pepsi, which began promoting its halftime sponsorship back in November, with a video starring halftime performer Katy Perry and another featuring Blake Shelton. From Thanksgiving Day to the Super Bowl, Pepsi will churn out nearly 40 pieces of "halftime" digital content, three times what the brand produced ahead of last year's Super Bowl, according to Pepsi.
The latest videos are debuting today and feature three digital shorts starring comedian Craig Robinson and his real-life band, "The Nasty Delicious." In the series, Mr. Robinson tries to finagle his way into the halftime show. The series will culminate when the band plays not the Super Bowl, but during a "Key & Peele" Super Bowl comedy special airing on Comedy Central on Jan. 30.
The overall campaign, called "Hyped for Halftime," comes as Pepsi tries to squeeze as much return as possible out of its four-year halftime sponsorship deal, which expires after the 2016 game. Pepsi has not disclosed financial details on the deal. In 2012, Sports Business Journal estimated that the previous sponsor, Bridgestone, was paying "upward of $7 million a year."
A PepsiCo spokeswoman confirmed that the sponsorship not yet been renewed. "We'll evaluate after next year," she said, noting the branding potential of the the 2016 game, which will mark the Super Bowl's 50th anniversary and be held in Levi's Stadium in the Bay Area. "We continue to see a really strong ROI on it. It's one of the largest pop culture events in the world and an important property for us."
The brand's strategy is to "extend well beyond the 12-minute halftime show," said Emily Silver, senior director of media and digital solutions for PepsiCo North America Beverages. "Last year we really only focused on [promoting halftime] about month out. This [time] we are doing stuff all season long."
In each video, Pepsi encourages fans to use the simple hashtag, "#halftime," just as it did last year. According to Pepsi, 83% of the "#halftime" hashtag uses in the past two months have been linked with the Super Bowl, which is up "single digits" from the same period last year. Pepsi views those results as a sign that its strategy is working. "That for us is really helpful because it is making the link between Super Bowl, halftime show and what we are doing on Pepsi," Ms. Silver said.