Campaign: Pepsi highlights music and soccer stars - Media Relations

Campaign: Gladiator and Foot Battle ads Client: Britvic Soft Drinks and Pepsico UK PR team: Ketchum Timescale: January-February 2004 Budget: Undisclosed

Soft drinks brand Pepsi recruited a teamsheet of international A-listers to appear in two big-budget TV ads, using the themes of pop music and football as part of its global promotional push for 2004. 'Pepsi Gladiators' starred Beyonce, Britney Spears and Pink singing We Will Rock You in a Roman amphitheatre, while 'Pepsi Foot Battle' featured Real Madrid stars David Beckham, Raul and Roberto Carlos slugging it out in costume.

Ketchum, in its fourth year with Pepsi, was tasked with developing a UK media relations strategy by Britvic and Pepsico, which co-market the brand in the UK. Although Pepsi had been involved on a project basis with football before, last year's sponsorship deal with the England team gave it an ongoing presence for the first time.


To drive affinity for the brand with Pepsi's core youth target audiences and to generate mass awareness of the brand's new 'Dare for More' message.

Strategy and Plan

Given the calibre of the celebrities appearing in the two ads, generating interest was not likely to be a problem. Ketchum's media strategy therefore had to focus on two main strands: the first was to generate mass awareness by using the tabloids, celebrity media, TV and radio; the second was to drive affinity for the brand via well-targeted story placements with key youth media titles.

Ketchum had to ensure the media were not swamped with messages from both themes of the campaign, so its team was split between managing media for the music and football elements.

Ketchum drip-fed details of the ads in advance, including stills and exclusives, to non-competing media. In London, the music ad was premiered at the National Gallery, with screens around Trafalgar Square, while the stars were available for interview on the Pepsi-blue carpet. The football ad got its first airing in Madrid to guarantee the availability of its three stars. Images and footage from the premieres were also released to key media as a follow-up.

Measurement and Evaluation

There was media coverage across the majority of the nationals in January and February, while many of the tabloids featured Pepsi several times over successive days. There have been 168 print articles around the music campaign, which premiered on 26 January, including such key youth titles as Smash Hits, Sneak, Mizz and Heat. TV coverage included Liquid News, Sky News, MTV, GMTV, London Tonight and ITN - a total of 36 broadcast pieces. There were also 77 radio pieces across the country.

'Foot Battle' was first aired on 26 February and to date there have been 105 print articles. The Sun was particularly taken with the Beckham ad, devoting a front page to it (which in turn generated TV mentions for Pepsi via newspaper reviewers on Sky and ITN), a back page and a double-page spread. A Daily Express feature asked 'Is this the greatest advert ever made?', Hello! devoted seven pages and the Daily Star, Match and Closer gave mentions.

Programmes including Football Focus, Soccer AM and On the Ball, as well as channels Sky and T4, also covered the campaign.


Since January, Pepsi's UK sales have risen 34 per cent year-on-year, according to ACNielsen data. Coverage has been wide-ranging, from snippets and picture captions to in-depth features for the brand.

The day after the music ad premiered on TV, three pages at the front of Heat were devoted to behind-the-scenes shots of Britney at the shoot.

'We focused particularly on Britney, and Ketchum came in and talked us through what pictures we could have,' says Heat associate features editor Lucie Cave.

Although Britney was not available for interview, Heat was able to put questions to an unnamed observer who had been on set. 'We needed some kind of exclusive angle,' Cave explains. 'Ketchum put us in touch with (the observer) and we emailed questions. It was a good spread, quite dramatic.' Zoo sports editor Matt Mason was taken to Madrid for the premiere of the football ad, where he had a scheduled interview with one of the stars. 'With the Champions League going on, Roberto Carlos was a great one to have for our readers,' he says. 'But we also managed to grab a few words with Beckham, which got us a second feature. Ketchum understood that we just wanted to talk about football.' The agency also set up a competition with Match to send a reader to Madrid.

'Ketchum knew that was exactly the sort of thing we wanted,' says senior writer Giles Milton.

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