Billboard Latin Music Conference: Pepsi Continues Its Journey with Latin Artists via 'Vive Hoy' and 3Ball MTY

3Ball MTY during their surprise appearance at the Billboard Latin Music Conference (Arnold Turner)

While plenty of major brands are rushing to scoop up Latin artists for partnerships as that market segment explodes, Pepsi boasts a long history of doing so already. The soda giant enjoyed center stage late Tuesday afternoon at the Billboard Latin Music Conference in a panel dubbed "Vive Hoy Con Pepsi: Pepsi's Journey Through Latin Culture."

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Lest consumers remember only flashy recent campaigns starring the likes of Pitbull, Daddy Yankee, and Tego Calderon, a quick video montage at the beginning flashed through Pepsi's Latin music campaigns past. Everyone from Chayanne to the original crossover queen, Gloria Estefan, has gotten a boost from the soft drink. But while the aforementioned artists were already huge stars when they teamed up with the company, Pepsi's director for multicultural brand engagement, Carlos Saavedra, said he and his colleagues' strategy has changed.

Carlos Saavedra, director, brand engagement-multicultural, Pepsi, presenting during the 2013 Billboard Latin Music Conference (Arnold Turner)

"We're really looking at emerging artists," Saavedra said. To that end, he announced a new partnership with Universal Music Group, tentatively called Blue Can Music, with the intention of breaking new acts. Saavedra also said the brand would extend its regional marketing, not just in California and Texas as usual, but also beyond.

The panel also served to unveil the latest act to be featured in Pepsi's ongoing "Vive Hoy" ("live today") campaign: Mexican tribal pinups 3ballMTY. A new TV commercial features the band DJing atop a giant Pepsi can, playing a track the threesome composed specifically for the campaign. The guys of 3Ball -- Sheeqo Beat, Erick Rincon, and DJ Otto -- even appeared on the panel stage for a live interview by Justino Aguila, Billboard's associate editor for Latin music.

From left: Jesus Gonzales, manager & brand partnerships, UMLE; Javier Farfan, senior director of cultural branding, PepsiCo; Carlos Saavedra, director, brand engagement-multicultural, Pepsi; Gustavo López, EVP, brand partnerships, business development & digital, UMLE (Arnold Turner)

"Pepsi's a brand we've followed for many years, and they've done a lot to help independent artists. We've seen how their campaigns have succeeded in the past," said Rincon. "We're living in the moment, in our dream, so the campaign's name, 'Vive Hoy,' is appropriate. Every day, every time we play, it's like the first time, so 'Vive Hoy!'"

He also pointed towards the synergistic success of the partnership. Though 3Ball MTY wrote a song dubbed "Vive Hoy" just for the campaign, Pepsi and the band's team released the song as a proper single, as well. "Now, it's already getting spins in almost every Latin American country," Rincon said. Pepsi's also lending the group some tour-support muscle, he said. "We did a tour in Guatemala and Honduras sponsored by Pepsi over spring break, and every show was packed. It was incredible."