January 28, 2009 / 2:06 PM / 9 years ago

Pepsi going down to wire with Super Bowl ad choice

NEW YORK (Reuters) - PepsiCo Inc, battling both a recession and fierce competition from its longtime rival, will showcase a major overhaul of its brands this week when it unveils a handful of new advertisements during the Super Bowl.

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch films his teammates taking part in media day for the Super Bowl XLIII in Tampa, January 27, 2009. REUTERS/Scott Audette

Only days before the National Football League’s championship game, Pepsi executives are still debating which advertisements they will run during NBC’s broadcast on Sunday, which will likely be viewed by nearly 100 million Americans. Prices for 30-second spots have been running around $3 million apiece.

PepsiCo officials on Tuesday said they had purchased around 3-1/2 minutes of commercial time, and expect to be the broadcast’s second-largest advertiser behind Anheuser-Busch InBev.

At the moment, PepsiCo expects to run at least one commercial each for Pepsi, Pepsi Max, Gatorade and SoBe Life Water, said Massimo d’Amore, chief executive PepsiCo North Americas Beverages.

“There is a pool of ads we’re still considering,” he said during a presentation at TBWA/Chiat/Day, an Omnicom Group ad agency that works on the Pepsi account. “We have more material than we can air.”

If PepsiCo is taking special care with this year’s selection — the company is a perennial Super Bowl advertiser — it may be because the stakes are especially high.

The recession has crimped consumer spending and flattened soft drink demand, while the long-smoldering “cola wars” with Coca-Cola Co have reignited. Coke, too, will have commercial spots running in the Super Bowl.

One spot Pepsi has decided to run is a much-anticipated 3-D commercial for its SoBe Life water with NFL players Ray Lewis, Matt Light and Justin Tuck and a host of animated figures. The animated spot will air at the end of the second quarter, during the same commercial block as another 3-D spot for DreamWorks Animation’s movie “Monsters vs. Aliens.”

Pepsi, DreamWorks, NBC and Intel, which helped supply the technology, have teamed up to distribute 3-D glasses for viewers, although the spots can be seen without them. Pepsi expects about 10 million Americans to view the commercial with the 3-D glasses.

“It was tremendously hilarious,” said Tuck, a 6-foot-5, 274-pound defensive end for the New York Giants who dances through the commercial in a skintight leotard. “I feel like it’s going to be one of those commercials that everyone will be talking about.”

Other commercials under consideration include comedy spots for Pepsi Max with the catchphrase “I’m Good” and a spot for Pepsi set to Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young” and featuring classic clips of the singer-songwriter and new shots of hip hop musician will.i.am.

Pepsi will also run at least one commercial for Gatorade, the sports drink, while also rolling out new a Gatorade signage on cups and coolers down on the field at the Super Bowl.

NBC, which had sold most of the advertising time for the game by the end of last summer, is a majority-owned by General Electric Co..

Reporting by Paul Thomasch; Editing by Gary Hill

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