- Pepsi is celebrating the return of NBC's "Sunday Night Football" to Cleveland, Ohio, for the first time in more than a decade with a limited-edition soda release party, according to details shared with Marketing Dive.
- The brand will dole out specially labeled "Believeland" Pepsi at a free tailgate ahead of the broadcast on Sept. 22. The soda has an orange hue, reflecting the colors of NFL team the Cleveland Browns. Pepsi produced just 1,100 bottles of the product, or 100 for each year that Browns fans went without their city hosting "Sunday Night Football." Five of the bottles also contain golden labels featuring prizes that Pepsi will offer more details on via its Twitter page throughout the week.
- The event on Sunday includes a takeover of local restaurant Lindey's Lake House Flats and activities like a performance from the band lovelytheband and trivia. Browns defensive end Myles Garrett is promoting the effort in partnership with Pepsi on Twitter, including through the hashtag #GoBelieveland.
Pepsi is capitalizing on the excitement around the long-awaited return of "Sunday Night Football" to Cleveland, layering in aspects of experiential and social media marketing with a limited-run, team-themed soda that potentially carries collector's appeal.
The NFL season is just gearing up, and "Sunday Night Football" remains a closely watched event, having held the title as the No. 1 primetime city for eight consecutive years, per the release.
Pepsi, which is a partner of the NFL, might be able to grow brand awareness in Cleveland and with football fans generally in recognizing a timely occasion for the NBC program and city. "Believeland" is a phrase associated with Cleveland's rocky and occasionally inspiring history with sports.
"When we saw the game on the 'Sunday Night Football' schedule this year, we knew we had to do something to celebrate with the city," Todd Kaplan, VP of marketing at Pepsi, said in a statement.
Localizing marketing efforts around specific teams and their fandoms, however beleaguered, has become a popular tactic among brands as social media and digital channels provide a more direct line of access to fans and their interests. Pepsi's push reflects other recent efforts to generate buzz around football season kick-off.
Bud Light last year offered "Victory Fridges" equipped with smart technology to Cleveland bars and at the FirstEnergy Stadium. The devices deployed free beer to patrons the first time the Browns won a regular-season game (something the team hadn't accomplished in nearly two years at the time). The AB InBev brew tapped the concept again earlier this month by opening a pop-up appliance store in downtown Cleveland that sold replicas of the original fridges. The Browns currently hold a 1-1 record, having crushed the New York Jets earlier this week 23-3.