food and beverages

PepsiCo's Winning Retail Game Plan Allows For Few Time-Outs

No company has more invested in the Super Bowl than PepsiCo, and that's reflected in planning that begins years in advance, and marketing programs that begin six or more months prior to any given year's big game.

With the game itself still two days away, it is the rare American who has managed to escape exposure to the numerous, heavily marketing promotions for PepsiCo beverages and Frito-Lay snack brands that began back in September, with the launch of the latest Doritos "Crash the Super Bowl" crowd-sourced game-ad contest. 

Indeed, Super Bowl XLIX marks the company's biggest, multi-brand "activation" ever — and that's saying something, given some of its brands' long histories with the game, and PepsiCo's 31-year relationship with the National Football League (currently in the third year of a 10-year agreement, which is reportedly a nearly $100 million-per-year investment for PepsiCo). 



PepsiCo brands' 2015 in-game presence will include three ads (at $4.5 million per 30 seconds this year): two Doritos ads chosen from "Crash the Super Bowl," plus a Pepsi ad leading up to the Pepsi-sponsored halftime show. In addition, the pre-game show will include nearly a dozen ads for Mtn Dew Kickstart. 

A partial recap of other PepsiCo Super Bowl initiatives leading up to the game includes Pepsi's "Hyped for Halftime" contest/campaign; a Tostitos video campaign starring Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly and the brand's activities-galore takeover of a two-block area in downtown Phoenix ("Tostitos Party Blvd."); and a "Game Day Grub Match" cook-off that manages to embrace all of PepsiCo's brands.  Most recently, Pepsi even revealed a mysterious "crop circle" in a field near the University of Phoenix Stadium, tied somehow to the halftime show. 

What tends to get lost in the media coverage — but not at PepsiCo — is that the ultimate goal of all of this marketing hoopla is generating enough product sales to more than cover all of the expense. 

And the critical link is PepsiCo's relationships with retailers, and the invaluable in-store display opportunities that the company is able to leverage in no small part because of its Super Bowl and overall NFL sponsorships, and their power to drive store traffic and sales.

In fact, this year, PepsiCo has some 62,000 multi-brand, Super Bowl-themed displays in prominent, coveted positions in key retailers across the country — a 70% increase in displays versus last year's game, Ram Krishnan, SVP and CMO, Frito-Lay North America, told Marketing Daily in a phone interview this week. 

These are what PepsiCo terms "Better Together" displays, a marketing juggernaut concept that is by no means limited to the Super Bowl, but sees its crowning glory around the game. 

PepsiCo's sponsorships and partnerships have enabled it to gain access to shopper data that in turn enables sophisticated, proprietary consumer analysis. That analysis reveals crucial, data-based opportunities for cross-marketing the company's beverage, snack and breakfast brands in in-store displays and supporting marketing. The company terms this identifying "demand spaces."

According to Krishnan, PepsiCo began many months ago to work with its key retail partners to develop customized display and marketing activations around the Super Bowl. Some include sweepstakes, with prizes such as tickets to next year's big game, or TVs or other items to create a "man cave"; others include coupons or other incentives or engagement activities, he notes.

Data supplied to Marketing Daily by advertising tracking firm Market Track about "bundle" ads provides some sense of just how important and far-ranging cross-brand marketing around the Super Bowl has become to PepsiCo. 

The research firm defines a bundle print ad as one that promotes two or more products from different but typically complementary categories, like soda and chips. 

Looking primarily at print ads run to date during January, versus the same pre-game period in January 2014, Market Track found that PepsiCo's "bundle" ads have jumped by 202% this year. 

Further, fully 75% of soda/chips bundle ads run this month featured Pepsico brands, including Pepsi and Frito-Lay brands, compared with 53% of bundle ads seen in the same period last year. (Coca-Cola's bundle ads are also up — by 128% versus last year's January period — although Dr Pepper's are down 52%, reports Market Track.)

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