Inside Pepsi's multimedia halftime show plans for Super Bowl LVI
As Pepsi prepares for its eleventh year as the title sponsor of the Super Bowl Halftime Show, the beverage giant takes The Drum behind the scenes of its plan to elevate the entertainment experience.
This year’s Super Bowl will reside in Inglewood, California’s SoFi Stadium. The sparkling venue will host five of the most iconic hip-hop artists of all time: Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige, and Kendrick Lamar. They make up one of the most highly-anticipated lineups in history.
Pepsi plans to take this year's Super Bowl Halftime Show to new heights
And it is the Pepsi Super Bowl Halftime Show after all. Marking its eleventh year as title sponsor of the Super Bowl Halftime Show, the brand is celebrating its 20th year as an NFL partner. This association has served as a rhythmic integration for a brand that strives to leave a good taste.
“Our brand position is all about unapologetic enjoyment,” says Todd Kaplan, Pepsi’s vice president of marketing. “We want to empathize with how you want to enjoy the game. Everything we do is driven towards connecting with others on a deeper emotional level.”
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In anticipation of the massive concert, Pepsi has debuted the Pepsi Super Bowl LVI Halftime Show mobile app for pre-order on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. The app, which will go live in early 2022, will serve as an extension of Pepsi’s marketing as it will connect fans to the artists both leading up to the show and during the performance.
“This year, we want to bring fans even closer to the experience,” says Kaplan. “We strive to build and amplify access to our fans. We thought an app was a great conduit for what will be a great experience for fans at the end of the day. We are always looking at how to properly showcase the merging of sports and music.”
The app will provide fans a mix of behind-the-scenes content and exclusive enter-to-win opportunities. Harkening back to Pepsi’s drive to connect on a deeper emotional level, music-lovers will be able to indulge in surprise creative drops, unique augmented reality features, and a host of digital experiences leading up to the show. For a handful of lucky fans, they will receive the ultimate Halftime Show experience complete with sideline passes to watch the show from the field, flights, hotels, and footballs signed by all 5 artists.
“We understand that the Halftime Show is for football fans and music fans alike,” says Kaplan. It’s those moments when you’re in-stadium and rocking out to music that shows music can connect everyone. There’s a great human truth in our shared love of music. It’s a great connector to bring people together.”
The crossover between NFL and hip-hop has been a staple of culture for over the past decade. It has never been more apparent as Jay-Z’s Roc Nation was a critical part in constructing this year’s Halftime Show. A few years ago, Pepsi brought in Jay-Z and the NFL for the planning process with the approach of being even more culturally vibrant to truly reflect the global audience that the Super Bowl garners.
The Pepsi Super Bowl Halftime Show amasses a global audience with an estimated 100 million people watching around the world. That’s enough people to fill over 5,000 sold-out Madison Square Garden shows.
“It’s no secret that each year this is the most anticipated 12-minute spot within Super Bowl advertising,” says Kaplan. “We want to make sure we put on the best show known to man every time.”
The Pepsi team understands that both sports and media are increasingly being consumed in alternative ways. That has been woven into the fabric of the brand's sports marketing positioning, particularly online. The brand is reigning back-to-back champs of Twitter’s #Brand Bowl, which breaks down brands’ social involvement during the Super Bowl. Last year, more fans used the hashtag #PepsiHalftime than #SuperBowl. And always looking to gain a valuable share of social equity, Pepsi continually charts their share of voice and how they fare in social conversations amongst other brands.
Knowing that their fans are incredibly fluid in sharing their experiences and preferences online, the brand continues to double down on personal connection.
“As a brand, we aspire to connect, at scale, in a deep, authentic, relevant way,” says Kaplan. “We go for all our fun, share our brand point of view, and voice that with the world. No doubt we know all the hard work that goes into this show. It’s something special to be a part of.”