Pepsi brings back Michael Jackson in China


Michael Jackson fans around the world will soon be able to grab a piece of memorabilia: a special Pepsi can. China’s getting in first with the cans being sold from Saturday.

PepsiCo Inc. is going on a reunion tour with The King of Pop, announcing its deal with the estate of Michael Jackson to use the late pop star’s image for its new global marketing push. The nature of the promotion will vary by country, but will include a TV ad, special edition cans bearing Jackson’s image and chances to download remixes of some of Jackson’s most famous songs.

Fans around the world will experience in a variety of ways including an engaging retail campaign featuring one billion special edition Michael Jackson Bad 25 Pepsi cans, iconic music, epic live events and opportunities for fans to access special edition merchandise.

The soft drink maker and the estate for the late pop star have unveiled plans to put the singer’s silhouette on one billion soft drink cans in a global campaign.

The limited edition Pepsi cans will go on sale first in China, starting on Saturday, and then in the United States later this month. They will be rolled out in approximately 20 additional markets in Asia, South America and Europe later in 2012.

The 330ml limited edition cans were leaked to Chinese market for quite some time before the official launch. They will be available at retail locations nationwide in China from May 5. In addition, from May 15 – June 14, 2012, fans will be encouraged to share photos of their valuable Jackson collections or original artwork celebrating him, for a chance to win tickets to Michael Jackson THE IMMORTAL World Tour by Cirque du Soleil, as part of China’s “In Honor of King of Pop MJ” promotion.

In the Chinese market, consumers will also see a TV ad featuring Jackson.

“We are thrilled to bring Michael and Pepsi back together, as they were in 1988, tocelebrate the 25th anniversary of the Bad album and tour and to put Michael on one billion Pepsi cans – perhaps a Guinness record,” John Branca and John McClain, the executors of Jackson’s estate, said in a statement. Branca and McClain added, “We’re excited to see it all come to life.”

Later in May, the U.S. will launch a nationwide retail campaign including a limited edition 16oz. Consumers will be able to scan codes on the cans with their phones to download remixed tracks from “Bad.”

The partnership coincides with the 25th anniversary of Jackson’s multi-platinum “Bad” album and record-breaking tour, around which the Michael Jackson Estate and Sony Music have celebratory projects underway.

“We want to thank fans for all their positive feedback on the announcement about the Pepsi deal,” the estate said in another statement, “Michael did three successive deals with Pepsi, on the Victory Tour, the Bad Tour and the Dangerous Tour, so this extends a long and very successful relationship with the brand.”

“Michael would have loved that we are making the record books with his image on a billion cans around the world. And the campaign will be a great kickoff to the celebration of the 25th anniversary of ‘Bad,'” they added.

Pepsi will also run contests in markets around the world giving fans the opportunity to win merchandise including, a limited number of jackets inspired by the original staff BAD tour jackets and tickets to Michael Jackson THE IMMORTAL World Tour by Cirque du Soleil, the #1 touring show in North America.

Pepsi has a lot riding on its new push. Although the company has a diverse portfolio of brands including Frito-Lay, Quaker Oats and Tropicana, it’s often judged by the performance of its namesake cola. And in 2010, Pepsi was knocked out of the No. 2 spot among sodas in the U.S. by Diet Coke, with Coke remaining in the No. 1 position, according to the industry tracker Beverage Digest.

Last month, Pepsi also reported that volume in its key Americas beverages unit slipped by 1 percent in the first three months of the year. The Jackson promotion is one aspect of Pepsi’s strategy to reverse that slide.

Frank Cooper, chief marketing officer, Global Consumer Engagement, PepsiCo said, “Michael Jackson will always be the King of Pop, and his music has always inspired fans and artists alike. But, this partnership goes beyond nostalgia and will engage with consumers all around the world with iconic imagery on more than one billion Pepsi cans, digital content and epic, live events, so that they cancontinue to connect with Jackson’s music and honor his legendary impact on entertainment.”

Michael Jackson has a long standing relationship with Pepsi spanning more than 25 years. The legendary King of Pop starred in his first Pepsi campaign alongside his brothers in 1983, as part of the Pepsi “New Generation” campaign followed by Pepsi’s sponsorship of the epic BAD Tour and the iconic “Chase” commercials which served as the impetus for the current reunion. Pepsi also featured Jackson in the “Music Icons” commercial that premiered during The X Factor in 2011.

However, the partnership also resurrects painful memories.

In 1984, Jackson’s hair famously caught fire while filming a commercial for Pepsi at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. The blaze happened after a spark from a pyrotechnics display landed on the singer’s head. Jackson suffered severe burns and many trace his addiction to painkillers to the incident. Pepsi gave Jackson US$1.5 million as a result, which Jackson donated to build a burning center in a hospital.

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