- Pepsi launched an international marketing campaign that brings together four soccer superstars, according to details shared with Mobile Marketer.
- Lionel Messi, Paul Pogba, Mo Salah and Raheem Sterling converge in a 60-second spot, "Play Never Stops," at the center of the effort running in more than 80 countries. The athletes also participated behind-the-scenes in a #PepsiCanBalance challenge where they attempt to balance cans of the soda on tricky surfaces. They are encouraging influencers and followers to show off their own challenges on social media.
- Limited-edition packaging featuring the players will appear on Pepsi and Pepsi Black/MAX cans. The cans include QR codes that unlock augmented reality (AR) versions of Messi, Pogba, Salah and Sterling, who can compete in a game of keepie uppie, where participants try to juggle a soccer ball in the air for the longest amount of time. The activation lets users share their scores via Instagram Stories.
Pepsi's star-studded push, part of the company's "Pepsi, For the Love of It" global platform, deploys several mobile tactics that are increasingly popular individually, but not always used together to create a cohesive cross channel experience.
The rollout is timed as the annual UEFA Champions League tournament, of which Pepsi is a sponsor, starts to heat up. Pepsi has generally ramped up its soccer marketing, including through a successful campaign that ran around the last World Cup, where chief rival Coca-Cola was the official sponsor.
To draw the interest of soccer fans to the latest campaign, Pepsi has added gamified elements with virtual avatars of several renowned players, which could extend engagement beyond typical AR activations as consumers try to beat their keepie uppie high scores and share them to Instagram Stories. The virtual theme is reflected in the 60-second hero spot, where Messi, Pogba, Salah and Sterling participate in a game of mounting one-upmanship.
Mobile-ready packaging also continues to be a focus for Pepsi as the soft drink giant looks to reinforce the strengths of its core brands and draw interest to newer offerings. For the holidays last year, Pepsi linked QR codes to a mobile scratch-off game that doled out cash prizes, with the suggestion that winners should pay their gifts forward. Pepsi also threw a spotlight on new matte black cans for Pepsi Zero Sugar as part of its campaign around Super Bowl LIV earlier this month.
Pepsi has recently increased its investments in advertising and media, which has strengthened performance at a time when Coke is similarly reinvesting in marketing and brand innovation. Pepsi rounding out its positioning included the introduction of "For the Love of It" in 2019, a global tagline running in 100 countries, but not the U.S. The platform was devised by PepsiCo's former CMO of Global Beverages Roberto Rios, who departed for Schwan's Company late last year.