No Omnicom, No Beyonce: Pepsi Taps Small Shops for New Global Ads

There Are No Celebs in the Latest 'Live for Now' Spots

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Pepsi, which has a long-term relationship with Omnicom Group, is bypassing the holding company for its latest round of global ads. Instead, the cola brand is relying on two smaller independent agencies for the next evolution of its "Live for Now" campaign. The ads also do not include big-name celebrities, which have been a hallmark for recent Pepsi work, including a 2013 ad starring Beyonce.

The shift in direction is occurring under Kristin Patrick, PepsiCo's chief marketing officer for global beverage brands who joined the company in May of 2013. In an interview, she stressed that "we have a very deep, long-going relationship with Omnicom and we are using them for many aspects of our 2015 campaign. But having said that, we want to find creative talent around the world that really suits whatever project we are working on. And for this one, we really wanted small, super-creative, nimble, fast [agencies] -- a different spirit."

The two chosen shops are New York-based Lloyd&Co, which describes itself as a "collective of 35 creative, spirited individuals" and Moondog, a New York-based boutique edit, graphic and design shop.

The four new ads (one of them is above) will run throughout the world, including the U.S., Europe and Latin America. Pepsi described them as featuring "friends coming together and turning what could otherwise be an ordinary moment into something extraordinary." The soundtrack is "High" by the American band Young Rising Sons. The end of the ads features the sung phrase "Ba Ba Ba Ba Ba" that Pepsi hasn't used in years. The mnemonic was last widely used in an ad starring Britney Spears called "Joy of Pepsi" that ran in 2001.

The selection of the two smaller agencies for the high-profile ads is further proof of Pepsi's willingness to look beyond Omnicom. The holding company had historically handled Pepsi via agencies such as TBWA/Chiat/Day and BBDO. More recently, Pepsi used a flexible agency model within Omnicom dubbed Galaxy that was designed to pull from various agencies. At the same time, the brand has given significant assignments to independent shop Mekanism, including a 2014 Super Bowl spot.

The new global ads do not include A-list star power, which marks a departure from Pepsi's recent global advertising. In 2012 Pepsi made Beyonce a "global brand ambassador" and ran a 2013 ad starring her called "Mirrors" by Omnicom-owned 180 LA. In 2014, Pepsi's global campaign was focused on soccer and included talent such as soccer star Leo Messi. That campaign was also by 180 LA.

Asked to comment on the status of the Beyonce deal, a PepsiCo spokeswoman said in an email that "Pepsi and Beyonce have enjoyed a longstanding relationship and we continue to be fans of her and her work. She will not be featured in our 2015 commercial advertising."

Ms. Patrick said Pepsi will look to continue building relationships with celebrities and that Pepsi will "always be a brand linked to celebrity [and] cultural influencers and personalities across different aspects of culture." But Pepsi's marketing will also include "relatable consumers," she added.

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