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Cardi B plays a ballin’ bejeweled Santa in Pepsi’s cold hard cash holiday promo

Pepsi has unveiled a Christmas ad completely antithetical to Coca-Cola’s wholesome winter imagery as it looks to promote the act of giving cash during the holidays with ‘Gift it Forward with Pepsi’.

The flagship ad stars rapper Cardi B as a badass Santa, who delivers money to the world on Christmas night in a flying car. The spot begins with an origin story: when Cardi was young, the Pepsi lore goes, she was too naughty for Santa’s delivery.

This led her to vow to launch a rival festive delivery service with cash as her load rather than presents. A flash forward to the future sees her manning ‘Cardi’s Twerk Shop’, where elves literally turn cans of Pepsi into cash.

The two-minute film will be cut down to a 30-second TV commercial, which will first air on Thanksgiving (28 November). It kicks off a comprehensive engagement platform that will give Pepsi drinkers the chance to win cold hard cash.

The push aims to change the reputation of those who give money instead of a gift during the holidays by turning ‘Gift it Forward’ into a “new holiday tradition”.

According to a press release, the brand will be giving away “hundreds of thousands of dollars” to consumers, who will be encouraged to pass it on to their friends, family and charity.

The giveaway comprises QR codes on Pepsi products that link through to a digital prize money game, a prize-giving slot on select iHeartMedia radio shows and a ‘Gift it Forward with Pepsi Cash Cam’ activation at NHL and NFL games.

The latter will see sports fans surprised live at games in a twist on the Kiss Cam – being forced to choose whether to keep a wad of cash for themselves, or multiply it by 10 and gift it forward to another row in the stadium.

The strategy fits with Pepsi’s continuing push to speak to the kind of consumer who “lives their lives more unapologetically”, according to its top marketer, Todd Kaplan, who laid out his vision for reconnecting with consumers in June.

It also ties with Pepsi’s Super Bowl spot, which saw Cardi B star alongside Steve Carrell and Lil Jon.

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