PepsiCo Kicks Off Super Bowl Season With a Social-Driven Cooking Show Featuring Former NFL Stars

Company partners with Vox Creative on the project

Three former NFL players took part in PepsiCo's Game Day Grub Match competition.

PepsiCo is drumming up some Super Bowl excitement a few weeks ahead of the Big Game in the form of a social media-driven cooking show staring some NFL stars.

It’s part of the company’s recurring Game Day Grub Match series, a cooking competition that calls for chefs to use PepsiCo products to make unique, creative, Super Bowl-friendly recipes.

“The Super Bowl is always a big moment for PepsiCo and our brands, and Game Day Grub Match allows us to bring our full food and beverage portfolio to life in a fun, engaging way,” Stephen Kalil, PepsiCo executive chef, said.

This time around, PepsiCo put a different spin on its annual event through a partnership with Vox Creative and Vox Media’s Eater and SB Nation.

“The Game Day Grub Match is a series that is rooted in the idea of a food competition that calls for the use of PepsiCo products as ingredients in creative ways,” Cristina Cerullo, creative director for Vox Creative, said. “That’s been sort of the constant. This year, they came to us to take it a step further and come back with a very social-first approach to it.”

PepsiCo created three challenges for the chefs—including former Green Bay Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings, former New York Jets center Nick Mangold and former New York Giants running back Rashad Jennings—forming the basis for each of the show’s three mini episodes. The challenges include a hometown-inspired dish, a two-minute drill and a round of chicken wings. The three athletes completed each challenge and presented the final dishes to a panel of judges, including Kalil, TV chef Anne Burrell and celebrity chef Josh Capon.

“I’m always blown away by the creativity and passion from our contestants,” Burrell said. “We give them just a few ground rules then unleash them in the PepsiCo pantry to make the magic happen. This year, we switched it up and had three former NFL athletes as contestants. Those boys sure can cook!”

One of the biggest challenges for Vox Creative with this year’s Game Day Grub Match was distilling the traditionally long-form cooking competition videos into social-friendly content.

Cerullo said that meant “[cutting] out all the parts that you don’t need to move the story forward so the episodes feel short, pithy and right for the audiences that are consuming them.”

“We had to look at how can we do that for a YouTube audience and conversely on the Facebook side,” she said. “How can we take some of the best stuff…little pieces of the story and tell shorter-form stories that people can consume on Facebook?”

Some of the perks for the athletes included the chance to have a recipe featured on the Buffalo Wild Wings menu at the Mall of American in Minneapolis during Super Bowl weekend. The winning chef will also score $25,000 to donate to a food bank in the city of their choice.

The Game Day Grub Match campaign rolled out across social channels in December, with the final episodes hitting SB Nation and Eater’s social media platforms this week. The athletes will also continue to push some of the content on their own social channels leading up to the Super Bowl.

Fans of PepsiCo, SB Nation and Eater will have a chance to win a trip to Super Bowl LII on Feb. 4 as a social correspondent for SB Nation by entering a 60-video on why they would make the best correspondent.

Vox Creative
Omnicom Media Group’s Content Collective

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