PepsiCo will not be advertising beverages on the Super Bowl this year, according to an article by Suzanne Vranica in the Wall Street Journal today. This means no Pepsi, no Diet Pepsi, no Gatorade, and no Sierra Mist on the big game in February.
This is a huge shift for Pepsi; the brand has been a core Super Bowl player, with spots running in the last 23 games.
Apparently Pepsi will be investing in an Internet-based, cause-related marketing effort instead of spending on Super Bowl advertising.
I’m not clear why Pepsi is making this sort of a move. Why walk away from a proven marketing tactic?
The decision certainly isn’t about the money; while a Super Bowl spot is expensive, in the scheme of Pepsi’s advertising budget it isn’t a huge matter.
One potential issue is that PepsiCo has struggled in recent years to create winning Super Bowl spots, airing a mixed bag of commercials. While some worked well, others were rather weak, including one astonishing Gatorade spot that showed a dog slurping away for 30 seconds.
Another potential issue is that Coke has been successfully challenging Pepsi on the Super Bowl in recent years and apparently is continuing to invest heavily in the event. By stepping aside Pepsi leaves the field to Coke. That is one way to avoid negative comparisons.
PepsiCo is making a lot of changes these days in the beverage area. Earlier this year the company introduced a new look for Pepsi, redesigned Tropicana and repositioned Gatorade. At least two of the three were less than successful.
It will be interesting to see how Pepsi does sitting out the game.