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After ending its run as presenting sponsor of the Super Bowl Halftime show last year, Pepsi is back to advertising during the Big Game—and there won’t be any sugar involved.
The ad will be a continuation of a campaign that kicks off during the NFL playoffs beginning Jan. 14 to promote its updated Pepsi Zero Sugar drink. Throughout the postseason, Pepsi will air new commercials in both English and Spanish.
“At Pepsi, we put our consumers at the forefront of everything we do,” Todd Kaplan, chief marketing officer at Pepsi, said in a statement. “Our R&D team leveraged the best new beverage technology to upgrade our Pepsi Zero Sugar product to give fans the best tasting cola in the zero-sugar category.”
According to the brand, a new sweetener system was key to upgrading its Pepsi Zero Sugar recipe.
The Super Bowl ad will mark Pepsi’s return to in-game advertising for the first time in three years. Back in 2020, the beverage giant aired a 30-second spot also promoting Pepsi Zero Sugar with singer H.E.R. and emcee Missy Elliott performing a cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black,” throwing shade at Coca-Cola.
To further promote the beverage, Pepsi is giving away up to 10 million bottles of Pepsi Zero Sugar during the playoffs and the Super Bowl.
Pepsi’s new strategy comes after a decade-long run as presenting sponsor of the Super Bowl Halftime Show that ended after last year’s Big Game. Despite the curtain coming down on that musical arrangement, Pepsi and the NFL will continue to work together, recently agreeing to a 10-year deal that extends their nearly four-decade-long partnership.
The focus on Pepsi Zero Sugar makes sense as the beverage giant looks to reallocate its spending to a more traditional Super Bowl ad.
It has generally trailed top competitor Coca-Cola in the zero sugar drink market. Coca-Cola Zero Sugar (formerly named Coca-Cola Zero until 2017) had a 7.9% share of the U.S. carbonated cola market in 2020, an increase from 6% in 2015, according to market research firm Euromonitor International. Pepsi Zero Sugar (formerly known as Pepsi Max until 2016) moved from 0.3% to 0.4% during the same time period.
Fox, which will carry Super Bowl 57 on Feb. 12, has sold out 95% of its in-game ad inventory, with 30-second spots going for more than $7 million.
For Super Bowl 56, 30-second Super Bowl ad slots went for as much as $7 million during NBC’s broadcast in February.