Pepsi’s Music Chief Makes the Super Bowl Sing

On the brand's ties with artists like Katy Perry

Emma Quigley, who joined PepsiCo last October as its first North American head of music, is a heavy hitter in music, having spent the previous two years leading global marketing efforts at Capitol Music Group, with earlier senior stints at EMI and Universal Music. When she joined the beverage giant, Quigley said one of her central goals was to forge relationships with emerging artists. But as the Super Bowl approaches, Pepsi's music mantle rests with superstar Katy Perry, who will head this year's halftime extravaganza.

Adweek: What's your mandate at Pepsi?

Emma Quigley: Pepsi has an incredible history in music. I intend to not only keep that tradition alive, but to also look at new ways of working with artists and with partners. Most days are filled with meetings, brainstorming and strategizing with the brands on platforms, programs and artist discussions. In between meetings, I catch up with labels, agents and managers.

My mandate here is to maintain the stellar legacy Pepsi has held for so long and continue to find ways to help us evolve and grow even further. Among other things, I'm currently looking at ways we can work with emerging artists in 2015 that will have a noticeable impact. We're also going to be working with partners that strengthen our presence in the music space.

So it's not all about superstars?

Our millennial consumers are all about discovering new artists, and Pepsi is helping to bring them a wide range of new content. Sites like Pepsi Pulse and our Artist Spotlight Program are vessels for sharing content—like our recent work with Nico & Vinz, Mayaeni and Sebastian Mikael.

What makes an artist a great match for the brand?

The Pepsi consumer comes from many different demographics. As a brand, that means our music partnerships have to span a range of genres, from pop to country to urban to Latin.

What is a deal or music play you've done for Pepsi since you joined?

My first major project [last November] involved working on our "Operation Halftime" event in Corpus Christi [Texas], featuring Blake Shelton. It was an amazing concert held on the USS Lexington for veterans and their families, which was turned into a TV spot that aired on Thanksgiving Day and kicked off our "Hype Your Hometown" campaign. Blake already had a strong history of partnership with the brand, and the nature of the event lent itself perfectly to this artist-brand partnership.

Brands today can potentially have more marketing impact for artists than record labels.

I would not discount the labels. We are not invested in artists in the same way the labels are, and it's always a lot easier when you have the ability to cherry pick. That said, there is a lot of clutter out there right now, making it difficult for artists to gain traction. Brands have the ability to cut through the clutter in a powerful way.

Do you get pitched by bands?

I do not receive demos from artists. I come across things organically and always keep my ear to the ground. But more times than not, I work with a fantastic team of people who regularly bring new music to my attention.

Is your Pepsi role similar to what you did at Capitol?

The role is very different. At PepsiCo, I have the opportunity to work with an incredibly diverse wealth of talent in a multitude of ways. It's a different challenge every day. Coming from a label, I bring a different perspective and also the unique understanding of how artists like to work with brands.