- Pepsi is touting a reformulation of its zero-sugar soda in new ads running around the NFL playoffs and through a planned Super Bowl campaign, the brand’s first in three years, per details emailed to Marketing Dive.
- National TV spots rolling out now introduce the “new and improved” Pepsi Zero Sugar and a “Zero Never Tasted So Good” tagline. The revamped flavor profile relies on a different sweetener system, resulting in a product consumers found more refreshing, smooth and easier to pair with food in early testing.
- While details are scant on the big-game commercial, the marketer is giving away up to 10 million Pepsi Zero Sugars to people who text “FREE PEPSI” during the playoffs and “FREE ZERO” during the Super Bowl to an 81234 number. Retail promotions with prominent partners will also be implemented throughout 2023.
Pepsi is eyeing the NFL playoffs and sports broadcasting’s biggest night to hype up the new-and-improved version of Pepsi Zero Sugar. The recipe change is aimed at creating a smoother and more refreshing drinking experience and making the soda pair better with meals — a running theme in Pepsi’s marketing of late and something that could resonate with people hosting football watch parties. Along with paid advertising, the promise of freebies delivered via an SMS promotion could generate traction.
The media blitz heralds the company’s return to big-game commercial advertising following a hiatus, though parent PepsiCo often stays busy around the broadcast and is doing so again in 2023. Pepsi had been the Super Bowl Halftime Show sponsor for the past decade but stepped back from the music event last year amid a strategic pivot.
Apple Music secured rights to the mid-game extravaganza as part of a pricy multi-year agreement with the NFL struck in September. PepsiCo also recently renewed a larger partnership with the league that encompasses key aspects of its portfolio, including Pepsi, Gatorade, Quaker and Frito-Lay’s Tostitos.
A product-led marketing strategy around the playoffs and Super Bowl shows Pepsi extending its focus on flavor experiments. The brand in 2022 introduced a nitro-infused offering targeted at young consumers and has toyed with limited-run drinks through a Soda Shop platform for the past two years. Previous Pepsi Zero Sugar campaigns have been angled at men in their 30s and 40s — a significant football TV audience — who are seeking a healthier change while not trading down on taste.
Chief rival Coca-Cola has also tried its hand at more experimental beverages in search of its next big hit. Much of the company’s marketing last year centered on a Creations platform that produced limited-edition soft drinks inspired by far-flung topics like space, pixels and dreams. Coke has said its innovation strategy this year could gravitate more toward packaging as consumers wrestle with inflation.