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Pepsi plans to make music -- and to some extent its $60 million "X Factor" sponsorship -- the common thread in its Super Bowl efforts, said Shiv Singh, global head of digital for PepsiCo Beverages. "A lot of people don't realize how big music is to the Super Bowl," he explained. "If you think about the Super Bowl, there's the game itself, the advertising and then halftime. At halftime, you're dialing up the TV to listen to the performance, in this case Madonna. And after the game, music kicks in a lot more."
A 60-second ad, "King's Court," will feature Elton John and "X Factor" winner Melanie Amaro. The tagline for the ad, created by TBWA/Chiat/Day is "Where there's Pepsi, there's music." A music video featuring Ms. Amaro singing a contemporized version of Aretha Franklin's "Respect" will be available when consumers use the Shazam app on the commercial. And the brand has also partnered with Pandora to curate a Super Bowl-themed station for consumers looking for the perfect game-day playlist.
Pepsi is also using the Pepsi Sound Off platform, which was modeled after Twitter and introduced as a way for "X Factor" fans to connect. Celebrities, including New York Jets' Mark Sanchez, will take turns hosting the platform during the game. The site has been given a football-themed update.
Sound Off was initially built for "The X Factor," but Mr. Singh said he's "fairly confident" that users will be interested in Super Bowl conversations -- and, eventually, other types of conversations. Mr. Singh said Sound Off is considered a "strategic asset" and will continue to be used as a way for consumers to connect during pop-culture moments.
"The entry point is the advertising," Mr. Singh said. "Everything builds really nicely and bleeds and flows, compared to some other advertisers for whom Super Bowl is an isolated initiative."
"What we're doing with a social-TV platform is hosting a party for consumers and people across America," he said. "If consumers want to rate and rant about the ads, they're more than welcome to," Mr. Singh said. "[Coca-Cola's ] approach is very different. The impression I get is it's a competing second-screen experience. It's not consumers talking about the game with each other; it's talking to ad characters. We care less about what polar bears do and more about what real people do and say."
"The X Factor," for its part, was back in the headlines this week when producers said host Steve Jones and judges Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger would not return for the show's second season. Some thought the timing overshadowed the "X Factor" Super Bowl tie-in, but it seemed just as likely to make the show top-of -mind again for Super Bowl viewers.