Social Media Creativity Brand Strategy

Pepsi taps Khaby Lame, David LaChapelle for new Nitro Pepsi campaign

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By Webb Wright | Junior Reporter

March 22, 2022 | 5 min read

The soft drink giant has unveiled ‘A Smoother Way to Soda,’ a new campaign that blends TikTok star Khaby Lame’s trademark humor with David LaChapelle’s iconic photographic eye “to show off how obviously simple and smooth Nitro Pepsi is.”

Pepsi has teamed up with Khaby Lame, the silent superstar of TikTok, for a new ad campaign celebrating the upcoming nationwide release of Nitro Pepsi. The images for the new campaign were shot by renowned photographer David LaChapelle.

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Khaby Lame stars in a new campaign for Nitro Pepsi / The Acceleration

Nitro Pepsi, a new nitrogen-infused product from the soft drink company, is slated for a nationwide rollout on March 28.

Lame, age 21, began producing content on TikTok after losing his job as a factory worker in Chivasso, Italy during the Covid-19 pandemic. Much of his content pokes fun at the absurdity of some ‘life-hack’ videos circulating on TikTok. In one such video, a woman, upon discovering that she can’t scoop up milk from a bowl with a fork, has the bright idea of using tape to transform her utensil into a makeshift spoon. In Lame’s TikTok, he shows the woman’s clip, picks up a spoon and shakes his head wordlessly.

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He’s a master of pointing out the glaringly obvious. He’s such a master, in fact, that he’s become the most popular male star on TikTok, with around 135 million followers.

In its new campaign, Pepsi aims to tap into Lame’s fame and signature comedic style by having him point out what the brand considers to be a glaringly obvious fact: that Nitro Pepsi is obviously smoother than, and superior to, other soft drinks.

“Nitro Pepsi is such an incredible cola experience, words can’t even describe how smooth it is,” said Todd Kaplan, Pepsi’s chief marketer. “Since Khaby Lame is known for pointing out the obvious with the use of his signature hand gestures, we felt he was the perfect person to show the world Nitro Pepsi is a simple solution for those who prefer less carbonation than that of a traditional cola. In this campaign, Khaby shows off how to pour and enjoy Nitro Pepsi – which is as smooth as Khaby is – without saying a word.”

In Lame’s first TikTok for the new campaign, he walks us through the starkly simple, three-step process of how to enjoy a Nitro Pepsi – crack open the can, pour fully upside down, admire and enjoy. Lame maintains his trademark silence for the entire video.

The new campaign features photos shot by iconic American photographer LaChapelle, known largely for his edgy and often surreal celebrity portraits.

“I’m honored to partner with Pepsi on their new Nitro Pepsi ‘A Smoother Way to Soda’ campaign and work with the iconic David LaChapelle,” Lame said in a statement. “So much of my content is about showing, not telling, and that’s exactly what I did with Nitro Pepsi. It’s such a smooth, delicious new cola it doesn’t need explanation and its unique features simply speak for themselves. I can’t wait for fans to see how we collaborated on this campaign.”

The campaign is being rolled out in print, on billboards, on social and in a national TV commercial that will air during the Oscars Pre-Show.

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