PepsiCo is playing the nostalgia card with a Super Bowl ad featuring Cindy Crawford, who starred in an iconic Pepsi commercial 26 years ago, according to The Wall Street Journal. The 30-second TV spot, called "This Is the Pepsi," could cost roughly $5 million.
The spot is scheduled to air during the Feb. 4 game and will feature Pepsi, Diet Pepsi and Pepsi Zero Sugar, according to MediaPost. It will also be shown to more than 55 international markets and run throughout the year. PepsiCo is also sponsoring the Super Bowl half-time show.
Last year, PepsiCo used a 30-second Super Bowl spot featuring music by John Legend to introduce its new LIFEWTR premium bottled water, according to AdAge. The brand offers premium packaging featuring colorful designs from emerging artists and generated $70 million in sales in its first five months.
News of Pepsi's Super Bowl spot comes right on the heels of rival Coca-Cola's announcement that it's revamping its Diet Coke brand with an updated can design and four new flavors. The makeover is Coke's attempt to lure millennials back to the out-of-vogue diet soda category, which has suffered from consumer rejection of artificial sweeteners. The move could also revitalize its soda volumes, which were flat in its latest earnings report.
Pepsi is taking a different approach with its throwback ad. The commercial spot is meant to drum up nostalgia in its longtime customers, leveraging Crawford to bring the Pepsi brand's glory days back to life. The ad is also undoubtedly an attempt to smooth over the backlash following a Pepsi commercial that starred Kendall Jenner and appeared to appropriate social movements like Black Lives Matter.
The revival of Pepsi's struggling soda segment is partially invested in this spot. In the U.S. and Canada, the beverage giant's soda volumes fell 4% in the first three quarters of 2017. But, as interest in soft drinks has waned, demand for premium water offerings has skyrocketed — a bright spot for Pepsi's LIFEWTR brand. In response, Pepsi has dedicated a big chunk of its advertising dollars to this brand and other healthier beverage offerings, but some fear that it's neglected promoting its soda brands in the process.
Beverage manufacturers have responded to slumping sales by putting out smaller containers at higher per-ounce prices, which has helped to fill the gap. However, considering the rising popularity of bottled water, which is now America's most popular beverage, soda companies have to innovate and diversify in order to keep sales from slipping.
PepsiCo has also tried to revamp soda by catering to millennial demand for complex, exciting flavors — last year, the company launched a limited-edition cinnamon-flavored cola called Pepsi Fire.
PepsiCo is fortunate to have its powerhouse snack products, including its Fritos, Lay's, Doritos and Cheetos brands — to soften the blow of soda segment's struggles and boost its bottom line. The company's overall net revenue showed a small increase in its most recent earnings report, helped by gains in the snack segment, despite a 3.4% decline in beverage sales to $5.33 billion.
Pepsi is banking on consumer love for its more classic formulas, and while Crawford will likely appeal to baby boomers who remember her 1992 ad, only time will tell if the ad will have an impact that carries through the year.