PepsiCo switches play to reflect Champions League revamp

Brand originally launched work across all hero brands.

Pepsi Max has returned to TV screens with its "Play never stops" Uefa Champions League campaign, alongside new content, drive-in experiences and a partnership with Houseparty as it shifts its marketing post-lockdown. 

The activity comes ahead of the football tournament final on 23 August and features footballers Lionel Messi, Paul Pogba, Mo Salah and Raheem Sterling.

On 4 August the brand debuted an online film to go alongside its "Play never stops" campaign, starring Sterling and musician Chunkz as they look forward to the Champions League’s return.

Following suit from Hotels.com – which created its own beach in London to screen the semi-finals of the Uefa Champions League – Pepsi Max has created drive-in experience across London, Manchester, Leeds and Henley-on-Thames for fans to watch the final match from their cars.

The brand also has struck a partnership with social networking service Houseparty for a social campaign in which Pogba and influencers test their football knowledge with a Champions League-based quiz, which the public can also try their hand at via the Houseparty app.

For sister brand Walkers, PepsiCo launched a campaign “Drop everything, it’s crunch time”, which shows footy fans as they step away from their newly-honed skills during lockdown (including baking, gaming and home redecorating) to enjoy the Champions League on the small screen.

Walkers was previously set to use a different ad, "Distracted stadium", which showed a crowd of people as they rallied to enjoy a single packet of crisps. However, the ad was not used following the pandemic.

“Clearly the world has had its challenges with the pandemic,” Adam Warner, senior director for global sports marketing at PepsiCo, told Campaign. “Football has had its challenges too – everything's been compressed from a scheduling perspective, which was probably the right solution.

“[The pandemic] presents a very unique format for the Champions League, which is going to add even more excitement to what is already a pretty exciting competition."

Last month (15 July), PepsiCo told Campaign that it had been building up its in-house agency capabilities in a bid to speed up working and save money.

However, none of the company’s major campaigns for the Champions League have been created in-house.

“Marketing is going to be a massive enabler for us to continue our growth aspirations as a business going forward,” Warner said. 

“We're going to need agency partners, and there'll be a role for  building your entire in-house capabilities. But it's all about balance for us.”

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