Michael Jackson, Pepsi Made Marketing History


Jackson's creative input also was groundbreaking. "Michael was very much involved in the execution of everything, from the choreography to the location scouting," says Bob Giraldi, who directed Jackson's most iconic Pepsi commercials -- from the very first "street scene" spot featuring kids dancing with their idol, to the "Bad" series that amounted to a mini action movie -- as well as the "Beat It" music video. "He really knew what worked."

Apart from a short-lived deal with the athletic footwear brand L.A. Gear, other endorsements were scant during the prime of Jackson's career, though he shot a few international TV spots for Suzuki, Sony and Esonic.

Pepsi, meanwhile, had sales of $7.7 billion in 1984 and an increase in market share while Coca-Cola's dropped, according to financial reports at the time. Pepsi signed a second, $10 million deal with Jackson in support of his "Bad" album and tour through 1987-88. Where Jackson's initial deal with Pepsi was limited to the United States, this one was global, covering 20-plus countries during the singer's world tour.

The trend of Pepsi signing music stars as spokespeople has continued into the present day, with Lionel Richie, Madonna, Beyoncé and Britney Spears all lending their name to the brand. Corporations of all stripes now align themselves frequently with pop artists, but with music and advertising becoming increasingly fragmented, Jackson's deals with Pepsi will likely remain the industry standard-bearer. Murphy says that 360-degree deals "are very effective, but whether they'll ever become that front-page newsworthy really depends on the level of wattage of the artist. I don't know that we'll see something like this again."

Nielsen Business Media