Insane Pepsi Ad Has Crystal Wolves, Digital Ninjas and Stone Monsters as the Ultimate Villains

Who needs Kendall when you've got VFX?

Headshot of Angela Natividad

Well, this is certainly a realistic metaphor for life.

Impact BBDO Jeddah and Glassworks Barcelona joined forces to produce “Hand in Hand, We Can” for Pepsi Arabia. Directed by Ernest Desumbila of Sauvage, it features six Saudi Arabian athletes, though they’re very nearly eclipsed by the fantastical creatures they’re fighting in a stark desert landscape.

These include a literal glass menagerie of wolves, digital ninjas that glitch in and out of existence, red-eyed stone beasts that rise out of dunes and even a series of Indiana Jones-style giant balls, magma-enhanced to raise the stakes.

The athletes work both together and apart to defeat their foes—probably to buy time while Frodo destroys the Ring—stopping in the calm of their last epic battle when a soccer player pops open a Pepsi. Then a magical army of soccer players appears, like the Knights of Vale saving John Snow’s sorry ass in the Battle of the Bastards. They gather in unity to pelt their last monster with balls, sending him crumbling back into the dust.

We aren’t really sure what to think. The ad is meant to be a metaphor about banding together to take on extreme challenges, but feels more like a production reel disguised as a sports ad. In any case, it sure has a lot of impressive effects, though it’s wanting in storyline—including a handy explanation for why actual athletes would take Pepsi into physical battle under desert heat.

On the other hand, the PepsiCo website does offer helpful tips on hydration, artfully including soft drinks as a positive contributor. “The food you eat provides about 20 percent of the fluids you need to take in every day,” it reads. “The remaining 80 percent needs to come from water or other beverages like juices, milk, coffee, tea, sports drinks and soft drinks.”

Subtle! Drink up, kids.

The ad began airing this month. Check out the making-of below.

Client: Pepsi Arabia
Agency: Impact BBDO Jeddah
Production Company: Sauvage
Director: Ernest Desumbila

Pepsi Tea,
Production Company: Dejavu Dubai
Executive Producer: Manasvi Gosalia
Producer: Alison Steve Jennings, Kavya Iyer

Impact BBDO Jeddah Team
Creative Director: Moe Sarhi, Wissam Chaar
Agency Producer: Diana Gebaly

Sauvage Team
Executive Producer: Eva Lafitte
Producer: Llibert Figueras
Editor: Lluis Murúa

Glassworks Team
3D Lead: Carlos Cortés
2D Lead: Carlos Cortés
Executive Producer / Head of Production: Joan Amat
Producer: Belén Palos
VFX Supervisor: Carlos Cortés
3D Artists: Carlos Cortés
Javier Verdugo
Fabio Medrano
Frankie de Leonardis
Simon Glas
Marco Rossi
Rodrigo Torres
Anthony Vincent
Eric Moliner
Borja A. Ortiz
Sarah Gatefield
Igor Gouziev
2D Artists: Carlos Cortés
Ruben Llusià
Saúl Yowi
Gonzalo Moyano
Fabio Medrano
Dani Granado
Alexandre Hurtado
Joan Hurtado
Anna Mejuto
Xavi Santolaya

3-D car sequence and monster made in collaboration with Sauvage

@luckthelady Angela Natividad is a frequent contributor to Adweek's creativity blog, AdFreak. She is also the author of Generation Creation and co-founder of Hurrah, an esports agency. She lives in Paris and when she isn't writing, she can be found picking food off your plate.