Q&A: Pepsi’s Super Bowl Playbook

Pepsi is returning to the Super Bowl with a splash. The cola brand, which sat out this year’s game in favor of its “Pepsi Refresh” project, today disclosed plans to advertise during Super Bowl 2011 with sibling brand Doritos.

Doritos, once again, is running its “Crash the Super Bowl” contest, which asks consumers to create their own spots. But this year, the snack brand is upping the number of submissions to six: Three for Doritos and three for Pepsi Max. PepsiCo will air the top four spots — as voted by the public — during the game on Feb. 6. Doritos and Pepsi Max teams will pick one each as well. PepsiCo is also capitalizing on the fame of Betty White — the star of this year’s top-ranked Snickers Super Bowl ad — who was tapped by the cola giant to inspire consumers in their Super Bowl submissions.

In another indication that both brands have their eyes set on top ad honors, creative directors Jeff Goodby of Goodby, Silverstein & Partners (Doritos’ lead agency) and Rob Schwartz from TBWA\Chiat\Day (which handles advertising for Pepsi Max) are also offering tips (via a live Webcast today) on how to create “breakthrough” Super Bowl spots.

In an interview with Brandweek, PepsiCo’s Jill Beraud, CMO of beverages, and Ann Mukherjee, chief marketer at Frito-Lay, discussed why the company is upping the ante for the Super Bowl and how consumer-generated content is becoming a bigger part of marketing efforts.

Brandweek: Pepsi is returning to the Super Bowl in 2011 with sibling brand Doritos. What inspired this?
Ann Mukherjee (pictured left):
This will be the fifth year that we run our “Doritos Crash the Super Bowl” contest, and we’ve seen such consumer engagement in this program for the past four years. You look at the young millennial who is really looking for their voice to be heard. They want to have a practical say in the brand, to be discovered and to have their dreams come true. That’s why we thought [Pepsi Max] was a good fit?

Jill Beraud (pictured right): Pepsi Max is a critical strategic priority for us this coming year. Being on the Super Bowl is a tremendous platform to be able to communicate our zero-calorie message to hundreds of millions of people.

Are Pepsi Max and Doritos making a onetime guest appearance, or will these two brands team up for future campaigns?
This will not be the only time you will see Doritos and Pepsi together. This isn’t a one-hit wonder. It’s part of our new consumer engagement model, and you will see, through 2011, our brands continue to engage with other brands in Pepsi’s portfolio. It speaks to the power of bringing our two organizations together.

Can you elaborate a bit more on that new model of “consumer engagement?”
It’s part of our new consumer engagement model of co-creation. We have just found, across many of our brands — Mountain Dew, Pepsi Refresh — this whole notion of co-creation — and product ideation, in general — has been a tremendous success for the portfolio in terms of driving consumer engagement and loyalty.

Has PepsiCo united two of its brands in one Super Bowl ad effort before?
Several years ago [2002], we ran a joint ad with Lay’s and Pepsi — but that was not consumer generated. In this new world of marketing, engagement and social media, this is the first ever of two [PepsiCo] brands coming together and doing it on such a grand scale. We’ve never had that before.

And it’s so much more than advertising. It’s a whole six-month consumer engagement process. We’re going to have 10 finalists that will go into the Super Bowl. Consumers will actually vote for four of the six spots that will air in the Super Bowl, and for the first time this year, we will have both the Doritos and Pepsi Max brands choose the other two finalists. And, there is a new twist: We’ll hire the winner of the highest scoring ad in [USA Today’s Super Bowl] Ad Meter, as our ad agency, so to speak, on behalf of PepsiCo and ask them to make a Pepsi and Doritos ad for us in 2011. The creative assignment has yet to be determined.

You’ve also tapped Betty White to encourage consumer submissions. Why so?
Betty White is a fabulous example of what can happen if you can get on the biggest stage possible — amazing things can happen. She has shown that this year and we’re asking her to join us to really bring this inspiration to bear.

What’s your outlook for the Super Bowl next year?
The NFL’s ratings, in general, just keep going up, and consumers are feeling a little bit more optimistic.

JB: More consumers are interested in watching the game, there are more advertisers [for next year’s game], and the ads have sold out very quickly. So it’s a win-win for the NFL and advertisers, and it’s a win-win for consumers.