With Pepsi and Beyonce reuniting for a $50 million, multi-year branding deal and creative partnership beginning in 2013, what's next for one of the music industry's most powerful, active brand partners? According to Frank Cooper, PepsiCo's global chief marketing officer, more collaborations with all levels of the songwriting process are in the works to make Pepsi an important, integrated part of the music ecosystem.
"We think there are some key producers and writers that can help us create original material," Cooper said in an interview with Billboard Monday (Dec. 10) morning. "It's not about integrating Pepsi so much, but making sure Pepsi plays a greater role in distributing the content."
The strategy has precedence within the PepsiCo family, from Mountain Dew's formation of a record label-services division called Green Label Sound to "Let's Go," the Calvin Harris-Ne-Yo hit from earlier this year that Pepsi commissioned as a theme song for a European soccer commercial that could play up the brand's "Live For Now" global tagline. In September, Pepsi also teamed with music branding agency Cornerstone for NFL Anthems, a series of original team songs from artists like Aerosmith, Kelly Clarkson and Kid Rock.
Cooper says Pepsi may end up creating its own version of Green Label Sound in 2013, but is still debating what to call it. "We're looking at names that would convey Pepsi but not have Pepsi directly in it."
And with plans to expand music strategies for PepsiCo brands like Lipton ( Lady Antebellum was a featured band in 2012) and Mountain Dew's DEWeezy collaboration with Lil Wayne, next year will see music playing a part in practically all of the company's brand strategies. And in the case of Pepsi-specific initiatives, all using Beyonce as a key point of amplification. "Our goal is not to begin and end with Beyonce. It's using Beyonce and partnering with her so we can highlight the other platforms that we're building," Cooper says.
Billboard caught up with Cooper to learn more about Pepsi's plans with Beyonce, expanded relationships with Nicki Minaj and One Direction and becoming more of a label-like presence without becoming an actual record label.
Frank Cooper PepsiCo's global chief marketing officer
Billboard: You just announced a renewed and expanded partnership with Beyonce that will include multiple creative projects in addition to traditional advertising. When did the conversations with Beyonce and her team first start?
Frank Cooper: It started in late summer of this year, and it really started around this idea we had around an artist that we thought had true global reach. Someone who really had a strong fan base in multiple territories around the world whose values align with ours - this idea of being positive and living in the now. And then we were looking for an artist that also wanted to have a true partnership, not simply looking for the most compensation in pocket. It's about how to build content for their fans and consumers, and that led us straight to Beyonce. We started sketching out a deal and teasing ideas out, and here we are.
Pepsi had already been confirmed as the Super Bowl Halftime Show's presenting sponsor, so did you help secure Beyonce as the performer as part of this deal?
It was a part of the conversation but it wasn't the emphasis. We talked about Super Bowl Halftime and how Beyonce and Pepsi might collaborate together on content. That was definitely part if it, but only one piece of it.
So how might this creative partnership manifest itself - what types of projects are you working on with Beyonce?
We're still in the idea-development phase, but the types of things we're talking about are creating original episodic content together. Where Beyonce may be in front of the camera but may be behind the camera. We're talking about for live events where we might play a role in creating additional engagement experiences for fans using technology or building interactions with fans that we think we can contribute from the Pepsi side. And then of course we're thinking about collaborating on events together, live events that we think can be an interesting way to display something Beyonce wants to do and something we want to do.
Beyonce is also prepping a fifth album that might also be ready as early as first quarter. Have you been meeting with the team at Columbia to talk about ways you can help promote the project?
We've had a couple meetings with Columbia, including one big meeting with all hands on deck, mostly to talk about how we can all work together to make sure we contribute to the album in a way to make it the most successful global album that she's ever done. They're definitely at the table with us.
Have you begun conceptualizing ideas for your next TV commercial with Beyonce, and which ad agencies will you be working with?
We have a concept for that spot, which hasn't been shot yet, so we're still in the early stages on that. We took a team approach with agencies for Beyonce, and as part of the team we have 180 Los Angeles, TBWA\Chiat\Day Los Angeles, Organic for digital and Safari Sundays for design experiential. What we decided was that the best way to handle this project was to have a cross-disciplinary team together. We don't care where those ideas come from when we execute it.