Pepsi Touts Vanilla During VMAs

NEW YORK BBDO will break a two-part Pepsi Vanilla commercial tonight on the MTV Video Music Awards telecast that documents the travails of two men trying to buy the product.

The ad, which will run in 45- and 15-second segments, opens with two men approaching a Pepsi Vanilla vending machine. When they try to push a button for the soft drink, however, the machine keeps flickering on and off. They consider a nearby Vanilla Coke vending machine, but one man says, “Trust me, it’s not even close.” The two contort their bodies, trying to find an angle where the machine will remain on long enough to purchase the beverage. The end of the 45-second spot reveals two mischievous shopkeepers across the street, flicking a switch to turn the machine on and off. The 15-second segment, aired later during the same commercial break, begins with the onscreen copy “42 minutes later” and shows the duo still trying to make the machine work. The tagline: “The not-so-vanilla vanilla.”

The spot, directed by documentarian Chris Smith (American Movie) of Independent Media in New York, will be recut and aired as a 30-second ad after the show. “We were just trying to use the media in a way to make the whole idea seem bigger,” said BBDO executive creative director Bill Bruce, who was also the copywriter and art director on the ad.

The ad is the second execution in the New York agency’s introductory campaign for Pepsi Vanilla. “Trucks,” which broke earlier this month, features Pepsi Vanilla and Vanilla Coke delivery trucks with dueling sound systems.

The fact that Pepsi Vanilla was introduced a year after Vanilla Coke influenced the creative direction of the campaign, Bruce said. “Because we are late in the game, we don’t want to act like [Vanilla Coke] doesn’t exist,” Bruce said. “People may have tried Vanilla Coke and not liked it, and we want to say they’re not the same thing.”

An effort was made not to be too negative toward Coke, however. “There’s a fine line,” Bruce said. “We don’t want to disparage them [too much], or people’s sentiment will turn toward the competitor.”