Cindy Crawford Returns to the Super Bowl for Pepsi

By Suzanne Vranica and Cara LombardoFeaturesDow Jones Newswires

PepsiCo Inc. is devoting one of its coveted Super Bowl ads to its namesake soda brand and enlisting Cindy Crawford's help, as the beverage company tries to claw back some of its lost market share.

Last year, the Purchase, N.Y.-based company benched Pepsi for the big game, giving the high-profile in-game ad time to its new water brand LIFEWTR as health-conscious consumers sought out lower-calorie sparkling and flavored waters.

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While LIFEWTR has been successful, generating $70 million in sales in its first five months, it hasn't compensated for the market share drop in the company's sodas like Pepsi and Diet Pepsi. PepsiCo's soda volumes in the U.S. and Canada fell 4% in its first three quarters of 2017, while water volumes rose by a high-single-digits percentage.

PepsiCo has seen its soda brands slip partly because it shifted too much of its marketing firepower to its healthier drinks.

That's where the company's Super Bowl ad comes in -- a hefty bet as advertisers fork over roughly $5 million for 30 seconds of commercial time during the big game on Feb. 4.

Called "This Is the Pepsi," the 30-second commercial will feature celebrities that have been part of Pepsi's marketing in the past, including a new take on Ms. Crawford's famous Super Bowl ad from 1992. The new spot is part of the company's "Pepsi Generation" campaign.

Brand Pepsi has long been a fixture of the Super Bowl, and viewers have come to expect memorable ads from the company. Over the years, its Super Bowl commercials have featured celebrities such as Britney Spears, Michael Jackson, Ray Charles and Ozzy Osbourne. The gridiron matchup has also been the event where Pepsi has poked fun of rival Coke with clever commercials.

PepsiCo's marketing announcement comes a day after rival Coca-Cola Co. revealed plans to add four new flavors of Diet Coke in brightly colored redesigned cans, an attempt to attract millennials and lure back lapsed soda drinkers. Coca-Cola's soda volumes were flat in its latest quarter.

PepsiCo, on the other hand, reported sales for its North America beverage unit fell 3% to $5.3 billion during the third quarter, prompting the company to say it would move marketing dollars back to Pepsi and Mountain Dew.

For the first six months of 2017, PepsiCo spent $110.3 million on Pepsi ads in the U.S., 8.5% less than the same period a year earlier, according to estimates from Kantar Media. Estimates from the ad-tracking company, which is owned by WPP PLC, don't include some forms of digital advertising.

From 2008 to 2017, PepsiCo has spent an estimated $174 million on Super Bowl ads, making it the third-largest ad spender during the NFL championship matchups, according to Kantar.

Pepsi will also, once again, sponsor the halftime show, which this year features Justin Timberlake.

Write to Suzanne Vranica at suzanne.vranica@wsj.com and Cara Lombardo at cara.lombardo@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 11, 2018 14:21 ET (19:21 GMT)