Nicki Minaj isn't the only musician to star in a major ad for PepsiCo this week.
Lady Antebellum debuted new 30-second TV spots for Lipton Tea & Honey and Lipton 100% Natural, a new product created in partnership by Pepsi and Unilever.In the CGI-laden spot, created with ad agency DDB, the band lights up -- literally -- with the drink's "100% natural" ingredients just before it performs hit single "We Owned The Night" to a sold-out crowd.
The spot is just one piece of Lipton's biggest musical marketing push to date -- encompassing print, digital and radio ads, retail promotions, meet-and-greets -- on the band's summer U.S. tour (currently running through June 30 before heading to the U.K. and an original Web series called "Drink Positive" that also debuted this week.
The deal represents Lady A's largest brand relationship to date -- something manager Gary Borman of Borman Entertainment doesn't take lightly.
"We've been involved in many [deals]," Borman told Billboard in March of the Lipton program. "Some have succeeded and some have failed. But the Lipton people have been so respectful of the band's brand that it made it really easy to marry these two cultures."
That need for authenticity is shared deeply by the band's members. Singer Hillary Scott said she and bandmates Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood have been drinking Lipton teas their entire lives and even request it in their riders on tour. Haywood noted, "It's important to us that any brand we partner with shares a genuine and positive image with their own fans, similar to the one that we try and share with ours."
It doesn't hurt that that the Lipton product being pushed brings to mind the band's single "American Honey," a connection that wasn't lost on Scott. "We know our fans really love that song because it takes you back to your childhood," she says. "Its message is really positive and lines up perfectly with the Lipton spirit."
Borman says he turned down all other sponsorship opportunities for Lady Antebellum to keep the focus on the broader Lipton partnership. "There's only so much you can dot to keep your message authentic," he says. "We decided to put all our energies into this and not spread ourselves thin over three or four deals."
Lipton said it would double its marketing commitment from last year, which would make the new Lady A campaign worth $44 million in measured media spend, based on 2011 figures from strategic advice firm Kantar Media.
Lady A isn't the only country act making big brand bucks on the road. Last summer, Keith Urban (also managed by Borman) teamed up with Samsung and AT&T for his "Get Closer" World Tour, appearing in TV spots and participating in sponsored meet-and-greets at each stop on the road. Also last summer, Taylor Swift's Speak Now tour was presented by Cover Girl, which gave away hundreds of thousands in product samples across her 79 sold out shows.
This year, tourmates Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw will each have their own marketing partners -- Corona and Pennzoil, respectively -- on their hotly anticipated Brothers of the Sun tour.