Pepsi Is All In on Football Season With New Ads and Tailgate Tour

It's the brand's biggest football marketing campaign yet

Dak Prescott and a number of other NFL players star in the brand's campaign. Pepsi
Headshot of Katie Richards

Football season is nearly back in full force, and just in time for kickoff, Pepsi—a longtime partner for the NFL—is pushing out its largest football marketing campaign to date. This year, the brand is putting more focus than ever on the fans, with new TV spots and packaging, merchandise and a touring tailgate festival.

“This year we are really focused on the rich history we have with football as a whole, the NFL and the fans. We want to celebrate that and bring a lot of things to life through different channels for NFL and football fans across the board,” said Melissa Duhaime, senior marketing manager of Pepsi Sports.

The season will start off with a multicity tailgate tour in partnership with a number of Pepsi’s key NFL and collegiate-level teams including the Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins. Beginning Sept. 15, Pepsi will host free multicity stadium tailgates before the start of 10 football games (three college-level matches and seven NFL games). The events will include all the essential tailgate games including giant Jenga and cornhole, as well as free food and cold Pepsi products.

Country music duo Locash

The tailgates are more than just hangouts for football fans. Pepsi has also partnered with country duo Locash, who just dropped the single “Feels Like a Party,” to perform at each event. Those not into the country vibes can catch up with some football alumni, team mascots and cheerleaders.

“Pepsi has always been at the forefront of sports, music and culture. I think Tailgate Tour is a way to bring all of this together and a way for us to enhance the football experience,” Duhaime said. “We know tailgating is a big thing with football, so to bring that to the next level and bring the game closer to fans through the alumni and cheerleaders and the music tie-in is really a great way to elevate that experience for fans.”

On top of the on-the-ground activation, Pepsi is also rolling out three TV spots starring a number of  NFL players that are partners with Pepsi. The first spot from Goodby Silverstein & Partners, titled “Theme Song,” rolls out today. Antonio Brown, Terry Bradshaw, Luke Kuechly and Dak Prescott all star in the ad. A second spot from GS&P, “Ice the Kicker,” will begin airing in mid-September. It features Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera and wide receiver Devin Funchess.

Finally, Pepsi also worked with its in-house agency, Creators League, on a final spot that hits the air today. That spot, done in partnership with Circle K, is all about NFL rookies, and it stars the brand’s very own rookie partner—New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley. As a bonus, Pepsi products will also be integrated into Carrie Underwood’s rendition of the NBC Sunday Night Football show open, with a few of the brand’s athletes making an appearance in the open as well.

In terms of merchandise and packaging, the brand also has some plans in that field. Pepsi is releasing new, limited-edition packaging; 15 NFL teams will be featured on 16 oz. cans of Pepsi, while 32 NFL teams will be featured on multipack cans. That packaging will be available in select markets across the country.

Additionally, Pepsi has a whole new range of what it calls “Pepsi Stuff.” That “stuff” will be football-themed items like bobbleheads of football players and other items like tailgate chairs and grills with some Pepsi branding slapped on them. To score some of the merchandise, fans simply need to sign up at PepsiStuff.com and put in the codes they find on specially marked Pepsi packaging to start earning points.

Fifteen NFL teams will be featured on 16 oz. cans of Pepsi, and 32 NFL teams will be featured on multipack cans.

@ktjrichards katie.richards@adweek.com Katie Richards is a staff writer for Adweek.
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