- Pepsi unveiled the trailer for a reality TV show that it had teased last month with the launch of its mango-flavored cola. The PepsiCo-owned brand is working with Velocity, ViacomCBS's branded content studio, to produce the dating show "Match Me If You Can" for the media giant's MTV network, per an announcement.
- "Match Me If You Can" will set up reality TV stars from different shows on dates that involve unexpected activities to see if they can find their perfect match. Lauren Speed Hamilton, who found love on Netflix dating show "Love Is Blind" and has a YouTube channel with her husband, hosts the Pepsi Mango series.
- Billed as a dating show inspired the by the "perfect match" of Pepsi and mango, "Match Me If You Can" will premiere during commercial break takeovers of the finale episode of "The Challenge: Double Agents" on MTV, creating a show within a show. The first episode will simultaneously appear on MTV's YouTube channel at 8 p.m. ET on April 21. The remaining four episodes will appear on YouTube every Wednesday after that. The full series will also be available on demand on Pluto TV after its initial run.
Pepsi's reality TV series marks a continuation of its strategy to integrate its branding with original programming to help reach younger viewers who are otherwise averse to advertising on traditional linear TV. The series' appearance across MTV, YouTube and Pluto TV, the ad-supported video-on-demand service (AVOD) that ViacomCBS acquired for $340 million two years ago, shows Pepsi taking a varied distribution strategy in reflection of how viewers are engaging across a growing number of channels. AVOD, in particular, has been gaining steam with consumers and marketers as fatigue with subscription services like Netflix sets in while video viewing, overall, has been on the upswing during the pandemic.
The theme of "Match Me If You Can" supports the idea that Pepsi paired cola with a mango flavor to create Pepsi Mango, while reflecting the viewers' enduring interest in reality TV and dating shows. The series' theme is consistent with last month's launch of Pepsi's "Perfect Match" campaign for the new flavor, which included social media advertising that doubled as personal ads for singles.
Pepsi has pushed more heavily into branded content with its recent promotional efforts. In December, it announced a collaboration with Fox Entertainment to create the first game show inspired by one its products. To promote Pepsi Wild Cherry, the brand backed the production of "Cherries Wild," a half-hour show that tested contestants' knowledge of pop-culture trivia. Hosted by actor Jason Biggs, the show premiered on Fox and streaming services including Fox Now, Hulu and Fox's AVOD offering Tubi. Pepsi also sponsored a virtual hip-hop competition called "Your Wildest Dreams" on video app Triller to promote the cherry-flavored cola.
These efforts indicate that Pepsi is likely to continue developing original programming that's integrated with its brands while exploring different channels for distribution as the space continues to fragment.
Pepsi and archrival Coca-Cola have made new flavorings a key part of their strategies to boost interest in their products amid the shifts in shopping habits since the onset of the pandemic. Coke last month launched a multichannel campaign for its flavored colas that included an influencer marketing effort and TV commercials during March Madness games. Its "Unbelievable Double Take" spots featured digitally inserted images of Coke flavors into footage of memorable moments from the NCAA Men's College Basketball tournament.