PepsiCo Has a Label & An Album Made Just for the World Cup Will Be Its First

In 2012, PepsiCo took a chance by tapping then-emerging DJ-producer Calvin Harris to create an original song for a European soccer campaign on behalf of its sugar-free soda Pepsi Max. The result was "Let's Go," a global hit featuring Ne-Yo that reached the top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100 and helped establish Harris' profile as a major U.S. hitmaker.

But why give away that kind of exposure, to say nothing of the royalties it generated? For its follow-up, the soft-drink company is establishing its own label, MSC Sounds, in partnership with Universal's Caroline Distribution, for a full album tied to the World Cup: "Beats of the Beautiful Game," which arrives June 10. Janelle Monae, Kelly Rowland, Rita Ora, Timbaland and Brazilian hip-hop trio Perlas Negras lead an international roster of 11 acts who have created original or exclusive songs for the project, with Spike Lee, Idris Elba and Diego Luna among the boldfaced names behind the camera for a series of 11 short films inspired by each song.

"What I'm proud of is, no one dusted off an old demo, like, 'Here's the one that I've been waiting for someone to pick up. Pepsi, give me a check,' " says Frank Cooper, chief marketing officer of global consumer engagement for PepsiCo's global beverage group. "Everyone brought their A game."

Pepsi will promote the album throughout the summer, debuting a new song on iTunes each week leading up to the album's release. Although PepsiCo can't include "World Cup" in its messaging (Coca-Cola is the official sponsor), the brand is hoping its fusion of music, sports and film will make for successful ambush marketing.

Beats doubles as a launch-pad for PepsiCo's Music Accelerator program, through which the brand utilizes its marketing assets ($2.4 billion in global ad spend, 31 million Facebook fans, 2.25 million Twitter followers) to boost the careers of emerging artists as it did for Harris in 2012.

One of the closest parallels this year is unsigned Dutch DJ R3hab, who shares a manager with Harris in Three Six Zero's Mark Gillespie and contributes the original song "Unstoppable." "It's a nice situation to be in," says Gillespie. "With support from somebody like Pepsi and a well-established touring career, you gain a lot of leverage." 


THE BILLBOARD BIZ
SUBSCRIBER EXPERIENCE

The Biz premium subscriber content has moved to Billboard.com/business.


To simplify subscriber access, we have temporarily disabled the password requirement.