Pepsi gets personal in campaign that uses more than 70 customized voiceovers (for a single video)

The ad effort for the brand’s Zero Sugar variety uses YouTube tech in a highly targeted media play

Published On
Feb 26, 2021

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In the newest push for its Zero Sugar soda, Pepsi is going all-in on voiceovers—by creating more than 70 different scripts to support a single video. 

The video is a simple shot of a can of the drink poured over ice. But Pepsi Zero Sugar is hoping to get a big bang for its buck with highly targeted media buys that use a different script tailored for unique audiences. They all end with the same tagline: “Zero Sugar. Zero Compromise,” which is meant to position the cola as having the same taste as regular Pepsi.

So, for instance, someone watching a clip of James Corden’s show on YouTube would be served a version of the ad with the following voiceover: “If you like your comedy edgy, but also can’t stay up past 11, you’ve compromised enough.” See more examples of the ads here.

 
 

Pepsi worked with Goodby Silverstein & Partners on the creative. Omnicom Media Group handled the media buys.

The campaign comes as marketers rely more on customized creative aimed at reaching people in moments that matter, rather than blanketing the airwaves with the same message for all audiences. It’s not a new concept, of course, but brands are finding new ways to use technology that allows them to personalize with greater efficiency.

For its digital buys, Pepsi is using YouTube’s “Director Mix” software, which allows brands to create thousands of customized videos out of a single creative asset. Campbell’s Soup was among the first brands to use it in a campaign in Australia that supplemented different text against the same video—with each ad targeting a specific user profile, resulting in 1,700 unique pre-roll ads. For instance, people watching YouTube clips from Netflix's "Orange is the New Black" were served the tagline, "Does your cooking make prison food seem good?"

Pepsi is one of the first brands to use the YouTube customization technology for sound, executives say. It opted for unique voiceovers, rather than visual or textual elements, because of the rising importance of audio, especially on YouTube, according to members of its marketing team.

“As other platforms become more of a sound-off, passive scrolling, YouTube continues to be an area where people have their volume up and they are consuming their content with sound,” says Caitlin Coburn, Pepsi’s director of brand engagement. “So even if people are not paying attention to the ad, the pre-roll, ahead of their content, we are still going to be capturing them with the power of sound.”

 
 

The approach also allows Pepsi to quickly make new iterations of the ad to respond to current events in pop culture. Todd Kaplan, VP of marketing at Pepsi, says the brand expects to continue to make new versions, going beyond 70 scripts. The beauty of adding new voiceovers, he says, is that “you can record it anywhere. It’s a pretty quick turn to transfer the audio file and just lay it into the original piece.”

The granular media targeting puts a more precise spin on Pepsi Zero Sugar’s broader target of that it describes as “a regular cola drinker who is looking for a zero calorie option in the midst of a changing lifestyle.” These are people in their 30s to 40s who are “getting married, having kids, buying property, and in the midst of it all, compromising their former lifestyle to account for all of these changes, but knowing that drinking Pepsi Zero Sugar means never compromising their favorite cola taste,” according to the brand. 

Pepsi will also run the campaign on TV and radio. While those buys won’t use YouTube’s customization tech, the brand is attempting to adopt the same philosophy of marrying the right message to the right audience. Media plans include running ads during coverage of the National Football League Draft in April.

Pepsi’s effort follows a move by Uber Eats that also involves a large number of tailored ads. 

The food delivery brand extended its “Wayne’s World” Super Bowl campaign post-game with personalized messages directed at specific markets, highlighting local restaurant partners in those areas. The videos play on the brand’s “Tonight I’ll Be Eating” tagline and feature Dana Carvey and Mike Meyers announcing they’ll be ordering from different pizzerias in cities including Aurora, Illinois; Atlanta; and Brooklyn, New York. The ads are nearly identical, save for the fact that Carvey announces a different restaurant and holds up an individualized sign in each one.

Contributing: Ann-Christine Diaz