- Pepsi unveiled a global campaign, called "Love it. Live It. Football," that stars five renowned international soccer players in a news release. The full effort, arriving ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia this summer, includes limited-edition player packaging, out-of-home experiences, digital content and a TV spot that will air in more than 60 markets worldwide
- The 60-second TV spot at the center of the campaign shows the five players doing a "kickabout" in the street with balls covered in Pepsi-blue paint, covering walls, windows and people. The athletes appearing are: Lionel Messi, four-time UEFA Champions League winner; Marcelo, a Brazilian defender and back-to-back Champions League winner; Toni Kroos, a German midfielder and three-time Champions League winner; Carli Lloyed, two-time Women's Best Player of the Year; and Dele Alli, a British two-time player of the year. The spot is soundtracked by the Major Lazer remix of "Light It Up," featuring the artists Nyla and Fuse ODG.
- Other aspects of the campaign include black and white Pepsi branded portraits of the athletes by the photographer Danny Clinch. Throughout 2018, Pepsi plans to release additional content and experiences, including personal conversations with the players, content from the football and fan culture publisher COPA90 and UEFA Champions League Final access and entertainment. Fans can use the hashtag #LoveItLiveIt for updates.
Though the 2018 FIFA World Cup doesn't kick off until mid-June, Pepsi is getting a head start by unveiling its new global soccer-themed TV spot and campaign creative early while not emphasizing the tournament itself. The soft drink brand is likely hoping to get a jump on its competitor and official World Cup sponsor Coca-Cola, helping to steer the conversation toward its own brand and increase sales and social media chatter ahead of the closely-watched international event.
Fans might appreciate Pepsi being able to bring so many notable stars for the push, lending the effort an air of authenticity to the effort. Focusing its campaign globally and on international players is a solid strategy, especially since the U.S. team didn't qualify for this year's World Cup. Fox Sports, which outbid ESPN by more than $400 million in 2011 for the rights to air the tournaments from 2015 to 2022, is expected to take a big advertising and ratings hit due to the absence, according to Adweek.
The network and World Cup advertisers are hoping that international stars like Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, who stars in the Pepsi campaign, will be enough to draw viewers. Though it's widely considered to be the most popular sport in the world, soccer hasn't as made much of a mark in the U.S., though its popularity has grown over the past several years and as viewing games has become more readily accessible.