Melanie Fiona had infinite options for ways to release her new single “Cold Piece,” having parted ways with Universal earlier this year after recording two R&B/soul albums for Motown (2009’s “The Bridge” and 2012’s “The MF Life”). So, when Pepsi and Complex Media approached the singer to help her film a music video for the song for a partnership called Pepsi Pulse, the 30-year-old singer jumped at the opportunity.
Filmed in Brooklyn late this summer, the “Cold Piece” clip features Fiona and friends dancing around a Pepsi-branded ice cream truck. The video debuted Thursday (Oct. 17) at Pepsi.com. It’s the latest in a series of music-based integrations for Pepsi and its portfolio brands, whether it’s Mountain Dew’s Green Label Sound, brand-inspired hits like Calvin Harris and Ne Yo’s “Let’s Go,” Beyonce’s $50 million creative fund and tour sponsorship and a special preview of two songs from Katy Perry’s “Prism” tied to August’s MTV VMAs.
“I’m at a place where I can make music very creatively free, and working with Pepsi was just very easy,” she says. “With labels, there’s a whole plan and everybody’s talking about all these different things at once. But with Pepsi and Complex, it was just, ‘here’s some of our ideas, what are yours, and we’ll see you on the day of the shoot.’ It was very relaxed and wasn’t stressful at all. And to know that they wanted to create a visual for it was so cool – I wouldn’t have had my own ice cream truck with my name on it had I done this myself! It’s like, wild.”
Pepsi and Fiona have a unique history that dates back to Billboard and Pepsi’s Summer Beats tribute to Michael Jackson in August 2012, where the singer performed several of Jackson’s iconic songs from the album “Bad” as well as her own hits. Earlier this year, she also happened to open for Beyonce for a few dates on her Pepsi-sponsored Mrs. Carter tour in L.A., the latter of which was more of a coincidence.
Bozoma Saint John, Pepsi’s director of cultural branding, music and entertainment, says it “made sense” to work with Fiona again to do something “that would allow us to share her talent with a greater number of fans. Collaborating with her on a music video that will be shared with fans globally via Pepsi Pulse is the perfect way to do that. When we heard that she was releasing new music, we wanted to cover her process via Pepsi Pulse, which as become an editorial hub for all things happening in music now.”
Where Mountain Dew’s Green Label Sound has provided an actual label-like service for indie and country acts like Holy Ghost, MNDR, Matt & Kim and Brantley Gilbert, brand Pepsi wants to act more as a “conduit for great music experiences for consumers,” Saint John says. “The experiences can be live concerts or through content, music downloads, and more. Artists are always trying to find new and interesting methods to connect with fans in a meaningful way, and get their music out. And playing in this space is a very natural fit for Pepsi, given the brand’s stronghold in the music, entertainment pop-culture space and numerous entertainment partnerships.”
As for Fiona, she’s still determining the next steps of her music career and plans for a third album. In the meantime, she’s been streaming covers of iconic songs by Whitney Houston, Kendrick Lamar, Notorious B.I.G. and others on her SoundCloud page under the banner “Free Love,” and may eventually release them as part of a compilation for her fans. Whatever the outcome, it will be on her own terms, she says. “I’m hoping with my next go-round, there’ll be a positive collaboration,” she says. “Not that it wasn’t before, but now that I’m older and wiser and more experienced in this music game, I’m definitely looking forward to having a lot more creative control.”