Pepsi pushing people to "Live For Now"

Mon Apr 30, 2012 12:18pm EDT
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By Martinne Geller

NEW YORK (Reuters) - In the 1980s Michael Jackson pitched it as "the choice of a new generation." In 1990 Ray Charles told people they "had the right one, baby." Now, Pepsi wants people to "Live for Now."

A multiyear campaign featuring that tagline, as well as various online components, ads and partnerships will roll out globally for the cola brand this year, starting on Monday in the United States.

The campaign is the biggest evidence to date of a renewed focus on marketing at PepsiCo, which has faced pressure from Wall Street to improve North American beverage sales. The company is spending an additional $500 million to $600 million this year on marketing a dozen of its brands, starting with its flagship cola.

"PepsiCo is two letters away from Pepsi," said Brad Jakeman, president of the company's Global Enjoyment Brands and chief creative officer of PepsiCo Global Beverages Group. "It needed attention first ... It's the 800-pound gorilla in the room."

Jakeman, who hails from Australia, joined PepsiCo last year from video game maker Activision Blizzard Inc, where he was chief marketing officer. He said he has wanted to work on the Pepsi brand for the past two decades.

"When it's at its best, it's telling people what's important in pop culture," Jakeman said in a recent interview at the company's "beverage lab" just outside New York City. "From a brand perspective, I want this brand to regain its rightful place as a true pop culture icon."

To that end, the first commercial in the "Live for Now" campaign will feature hip-hop artist Nicki Minaj singing her song "Moment 4 Life". Minaj - known for her wacky outfits and dramatic performances - recently released her second album, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. She also performed with Madonna during the Superbowl's half-time show.

Over the next several years, the campaign will feature other artists and entertainers. While the campaign is global, its commercials will be relevant to particular markets, Jakeman said.   Continued...

Cases of Pepsi are displayed for sale in Carlsbad, California February 7, 2012. PepsiCo Inc. will report their earnings February 9. REUTERS/Mike Blake