Pepsi blends fans, football and animated fun in NFL season campaign

'Always Be Celebrating' campaign arrives with brand's half-time sponsorship renewal amid Jay-Z’s scrutinized deal to aid the league on music performances

Published On
Sep 04, 2019

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Pepsi is reaffirming its commitment to the National Football League, renewing its Super Bowl halftime sponsorship deal, while launching a new campaign today that includes a tie-in to NBC’s “Sunday Night Football.”

The soda brand, which took over as halftime sponsor in 2012 from Bridgestone, has re-upped until 2022, PepsiCo will announce today. The brand has a separate deal dating back to 2002 that makes it the NFL’s official soft-drink sponsor. That deal, which was renewed in 2011 until 2022, gives it the rights to use NFL imagery in its ad campaigns. 

The newest effort, from Goodby Silverstein & Partners, is called  “Always Be Celebrating.” It includes two national TV ads using real footage of player touchdown celebrations set to the “Cha Cha Slide” by DJ Casper. The brand will also be included in the show opening of “Sunday Night Football,” which features Carrie Underwood and Joan Jett performing a revamped version of the “Waiting All Day for Sunday Night” theme song. Pepsi had a similar deal with NBC last season.

The halftime sponsorship will get extra attention this year because it comes as the NFL begins a new arrangement with Jay-Z, whose Roc Nation entered a deal to “advise on the selection of artists for major NFL performances like the Super Bowl.” 

The pact, announced in mid-August, drew immediate scrutiny, including criticism that the rapper is changing his tune after acting as a strong supporter of Colin Kaepernick. The quarterback has not landed on an NFL roster since the end of the 2016 season, after be became a lightning rod for controversy following his kneeling during the national anthem to protest social injustice. Jay-Z, who will be charged with aiding the league's social justice efforts as part of the deal, defended the arrangement in a press conference in August, saying,“I think that we forget that Colin’s whole thing was to bring attention to social injustice...So in that case, this is a success; this is the next thing.”

Addressing the criticism, Todd Kaplan, VP marketing at PepsiCo overseeing colas, told Ad Age this week that “it’s great that there is finally action being taken towards finding solutions and we are really looking forward to seeing the fruits of this partnership come to life.” 

As for the halftime show, Kaplan declined to reveal who might perform a the Feb. 2 game in Miami, but says “we’ve been continuing to work with the league throughout the offseason to rethink the overall approach on the overall super Bowl halftime show platform. And we couldn’t be happier to welcome Jay-Z and Roc Nation as our partners in this journey.”

The “Always Be Celebrating” campaign, which will run throughout the season, blends player and fan celebrations with animated effects. “We wanted to showcase and spotlight what we feel makes the NFL unique,” Kaplan says, which is “the celebratory spirit that is shared by its fans and its players.”  That, he says, includes choreographed end-zone dance and that “high-five [with] that stranger sitting next to you in the stadium.”

As part of the campaign, Pepsi will make a donation to the United Way in the amount to cover 100 meals for every touchdown celebration from the season opener until Thanksgiving.