Pepsi on Paul Rudd ad: 'We want to bring humour back'

Rudd: plays astronaut who dashes off to collect Pepsi Max right before lift-off
Rudd: plays astronaut who dashes off to collect Pepsi Max right before lift-off

Soft-drinks brand this week launched blockbuster comedy spot starring Rudd.

Pepsi’s new global brand positioning is aimed at a generation of young consumers who are "positive and optimistic about their future", but are often held back by self-doubt, according to its vice-president of global brand development.

The soft-drinks giant spent a year developing the positioning, "For the love of it", which launched in January. It replaced "Live for now", which had been in use since 2012. Pepsi needed a message that "resonated across cultures", Natalia Filippociants told Campaign.

Pepsi's work to understand the outlook of its target consumers throughout the past year identified that, around the world, younger millennials and Generation Z "believe they can live the lives they want to live", Filippociants said.

But they also experience self-doubt, which she said comes in part from the constructed and idealised depictions of other people’s lives they see on social media. Younger people "fear to fail", she said: "It’s something that holds us back and holds them back even more. It’s all about judgment, and real life versus the inspirational life. But what we believe is you need to be who you are."

Pepsi wanted to "champion people who are bold – who can follow their passions with no regrets", Filippociants added.

A new film, "No can left behind", stars Paul Rudd and Michael Peña and is directed by Taika Waititi, perhaps one of the most in-demand filmmakers right now. It’s reflective of a shift in tone for the brand under the new strapline.

"We decided we want to bring humour back," Filippociants said. The campaigns that came under the "Live for now" positioning tended to focus on music, fashion and street scenes, and featured the likes of Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj, but they were not noted for inducing hoots of laughter.

The low point of this era was undoubtedly 2017’s infamous Kendall Jenner ad – the least critical thing that could be said about which is perhaps that it took itself too seriously.

"We are a full culture brand," Filippociants said. "We’re known for epic and entertaining content; we want to entertain people, rather than just showing people being entertained."

The creative idea of "No can left behind" was developed before its stars came on board and Pepsi looked at other A-list stars, Filippociants said. "Paul and Michael are some of the best talent; they have great chemistry and they had a lot of fun on set and added a lot [to the ad]."

Alluding to some of the work in the "Live for now" era, Filippociants argued that Pepsi’s astronaut story worked particularly well because it "helps us bring Pepsi back into our stories in a way that’s authentic – which we didn’t manage to do before. I believe we’ve made big progress this year".

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