- For the start of pro football season, Pepsi is launching a multi-city Tailgate Tour, the company announced in a press release. The tour will feature performances by country music duo Locash; an area where attendees can play games like cornhole, ladder ball and giant Jenga; opportunities to win Pepsi merchandise, game tickets and other prizes; free Pepsi and Frito-Lay products; and meet-and-greet events with NFL players and cheerleaders.
- Pepsi is also rolling out two new national TV spots, "Theme Song," which debuted Sept. 4 and stars Antonio Brown, Terry Bradshaw, Luke Kuechly and Dak Prescott, and "Ice the Kicker," which features Ron Rivera and Devin Funchess and will be released widely mid-September. The Pepsi brand is additionally integrated into the opening theme of "NBC Sunday Night Football" with Carrie Underwood this year.
- To support the campaign, Pepsi is also releasing limited-edition packaging that displays NFL teams and new football-themed gear for its Pepsi Stuff line of rewards merchandise, including bobble heads. The brand teamed up with convenience chain Circle K on a commercial, "Unreal Rookie Deal," that stars NFL newcomer Saquon Barkley and includes a special promotion.
Pepsi is extending its partnership with the NFL well beyond the usual TV spots and brand integrations, recognizing a growing trend toward experiential marketing and also what will potentially be lower ratings for broadcast football games this season. Last year, NFL ad revenue dropped 1.2% and TV ratings fell 10%, according to the Standard Media Index reported in Adweek. Cord-cutting has also accelerated faster than many in the industry expected this year and sports viewers are more frequently searching for content online and on digital platforms.
Tailgating is a pre-game staple for many football fans, so it's possible Pepsi will be able to draw a good deal of foot traffic to its activations, with interest bolstered by live music performances, player appearances and merchandise. Pepsi has recently put a greater emphasis on experience-driven marketing like concerts and also Pepsi Stuff, a loyalty rewards program it resurrected as part of a "Generations" campaign launched around the Super Bowl this year.
Pepsi Stuff was first introduced in 1996, and gives consumers the chance to earn points for purchases and redeem them for prizes The soft drink maker earlier this year also sponsored the country artist Dierks Bentley's Mountain High Tour, and expanded its push for Pepsi Stuff around the partnership. The team-up with Locash for the tailgate events continues that theme.
A heavy, multichannel campaign to kick-off NFL season fits in-line with parent company PepsiCo's plans to increase its marketing spend in order to better compete with rival Coca-Cola. PepsiCo attributed subpar Q1 performance to a loss in market share to Coke. The company recently replaced Coke as the official non-alcoholic beverage and salty snack partner for Madison Square Garden, ending its competitor's 100-year run at the historic venue.