UPDATE: PepsiCo's "Empire" partnership has public health critics speaking out.
"In the midst of a skyrocketing diabetes epidemic that affects African-Americans as much or more than any other ethnic group, to be advertising Pepsi cola on 'Empire' is a public health tragedy," said Harold Goldstein, executive director of the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, to TheWrap.
- PepsiCo's "Empire" sponsorship is heading to the next level, with a three-episode story arc featuring the making and debut of a Pepsi commercial.
- The commercial features character Jamal Lyon, played by Jussie Smollett, who on the series meets with Pepsi executives to help boost his pop star image.
- The spot will air on the series at a press conference and then Fox will air the ad during a commercial break. "You have a real brand anointing a fictional artist in a commercial directed by the creator of the series (Lee Daniels) appearing as himself," a Steven Melnick, a senior vice president for 20th Century Fox Television, the studio behind "Empire" told Bloomberg.
The relationship between the show and the brand is well-established and innovative — Pepsi has found a way to reach viewers who record programs and then speed through the commercials.
In a recent study, Nielsen said product integration leads to greater product recall. Adults age 18-49 were 18% more likely to remember a product. In the previous TV season, Nielsen said there were 4,455 in-program placements featuring 136 brands.
Pepsi traditionally embraces celebrity, with the likes of Michael Jackson, Madonna, and Beyonce all appearing in Pepsi ads.
Smollett says the character is the "perfect ambassador" for the on trend, inclusive brand.
Ad slots that last 30 seconds cost approximately $500,000 this season, per Ad Age. The Pepsi deal has an approximately $20 million value. The company spent $149 million on U.S. advertising in 2014, according to Kantar Media.