Pepsi Tries Super Bowl Spot Selection 2.0

NEW YORK PepsiCo today detailed which ads will be running during the Super Bowl, sort of.

The No. 2 cola giant has readied work for Pepsi, Pepsi Max, SoBe Lifewater and G (formerly Gatorade). However, it is hedging its bets as to which creative to run. Instead it is waiting to see which brands are getting the most buzz on the Internet, according to Massimo d’Amore, CEO, PepsiCo Americas Beverages.

“We’re following the blogosphere,” he said, in order to make “the best possible choice.” The company has vowed to be second only to Anheuser-Busch in terms of minutes purchased during the game. It only gave a range of up to four minutes of ads.

All four brands have selected different tacks to garner consumers’ attention. Here is a breakdown:

— SoBe Lifewater is the only sure Super Bowl bet with the first-ever 3-D ad. It stars three National Football League players (Ray Lewis, Justin Tuck and Matt Light) showing off their dance moves along with the brand’s lizard mascots. “Sobelieve” is the tagline. More than 125 million pairs of 3-D glasses are being given away at retail. SoBe Lifewater will also air a 15-second ad starring Light. “I never thought I’d be dancing in a Super Bowl ad in my whole life,” said Light. The beverage has been completely repackaged (it no longer apes Vitaminwater) and it launched three zero-calorie flavored waters sweetened with Stevia. The Arnell Group, New York, handles SoBe Lifewater as well as Tropicana, which also has been repackaged. New Tropicana TV is on the way as are 25 print executions bearing the tag: “Squeeze. It’s natural.” Trop 50, sweetened with Stevia for 50 percent less sugar and calories, is on deck for spring.

— Gatorade’s new “G” teaser campaign will likely end with a Super Bowl spot. The brand, which has been repackaged, has been promoting the relaunch with its “What is G?” campaign featuring 28 legendary athletes. G2 will get a new campaign called “Less calories for more athletes.” Its Tiger product will be relaunched in April with Vitamin E and half the sugar. Propel will also be revamped this year as more of a lifestyle drink. New packaging and flavors are in the works.

— Pepsi vowed to “Refresh everything” with a massive Times Square push. It followed up with a heavy presence during the presidential inauguration as well as online with its “Dear Mr. President” viral campaign. Pepsi has prepped a spot called “Refresh anthem.” It features a mashup of Bob Dylan’s “Forever young” with hip-hop star Iconic images link the past with the present, and the ad ends with “Every generation refreshes the world” as a tagline. Diet Pepsi will also be tucked under the “Refresh” umbrella later this year.

— Pepsi Max has already begun positioning itself as “The first diet cola for men” in new ads. Its potential Super Bowl spot “I’m Good” shows men getting viciously injured and then saying, “I’m good,” icing themselves with a Pepsi Max. Message: “Men can take anything except the taste of diet cola.” TBWA\Chiat\Day, Playa del Rey, Calif., handles Pepsi in the U.S.

More than 1,200 PepsiCo SKUs have been changed in the past four months. The massive overhaul for all of these brands was essential given the changing times, said d’Amore. “We know how to create culture. We are not about mirroring culture. We have been in the trenches for a long time and we know how to fight. This is a time for challengers,” he said.

In this spirit, Pepsi challenged the notion that its new “Refresh everything” campaign was similar to Coca-Cola’s “Open happiness.” “There is a fundamental difference. We are not saying we are happiness in a bottle … It’s about people. Pepsi as cultural catalyst for change,” said Frank Cooper, vp, portfolio brands.

Such talk about “change” has also led to comparison with President Obama’s message. “It’s an underlying spirit that we want to tap into as he tapped into,” said Cooper after dismissing the notion that Pepsi’s new logo looked like the Obama campaign logo. “Pepsi is not trying to make any political statement at all,” he said.

PepsiCo spent $468 million on media (excluding online) for its beverage brands for the first 11 months of 2008, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus. In 2007, it spent $524 million.