It’s no secret that Pepsi is one of the biggest sponsors of sporting events in the world. Whether you’re watching the Pepsi NFL Super Bowl Halftime Show, enjoying the Pepsi MLB All-Star Week Block Party, or witnessing a Pepsi Zero Sugar NHL shutout – Pepsi is one brand that always remains agile and active in the arena of sports sponsorships and fan experience.
Before MLB’s decision last month to make Coca-Cola the official soft drink of baseball, you could have said that Pepsi was the undisputed heavyweight champion of sports sponsorships. Pepsi became the official soft drink of the NFL in 2002; the brand has been the premier soft drink sponsor of the NHL since 2006; and Pepsi is also the official soft drink of the NBA, a title they’ve held since 2015. Before the April announcement that baseball would partner with Coke, Pepsi had been MLB’s official soft drink sponsor since 1997 – when Nomar Garciaparra was rookie of the year.
As you would expect from an industry-leading sponsor, Pepsi didn’t miss a beat when they learned of the change. On the very same day as the MLB announcement, Pepsi announced that it would launch team-branded cans in the 11 markets where it has exclusive sponsorship deals in place.
Leading the Way in Fan Experience Innovation
Aside from being the preeminent sponsor of sporting events in the world today, Pepsi is also a driving force when it comes to innovation in fan experience. For decades, the brand has consistently identified original opportunities and tapped into new possibilities in the realm of fan experience.
Here is a quick look at five different ways Pepsi is pushing the limits of today’s sports fan experience:
#5 – The 1893 Club at Yankee Stadium
This new attraction at Yankee Stadium is a throwback to the game of baseball’s early days. The club is situated above the historic monument park, with a view overlooking center field. Groups of 10 or more can register to enjoy traditional pub fare and a pair of cocktail bars that serve up signature drinks featuring Pepsi’s new 1893 craft cola.
The décor features oversized reproductions of baseball cards showing every Yankee player whose number has been retired. Fans can watch the game in air conditioned comfort through massive floor-to-ceiling windows, or on any of the high-definition big screen televisions that line the walls.
#4 – The Dew NBA 3X Tour
Pepsi brought the 3-on- 3 basketball tournament back to the NBA last year with its Dew NBA 3X tour. The by-invitation- only tournaments feature top amateur talent from around the country. The 2017 schedule includes stops in Chicago, Miami, New York, Washington D.C., San Francisco, and Los Angeles.
Older fans may recall the NBA’s previous association with the Hoop-It- Up 3-on- 3 organization. The Dew NBA 3X tour brings a renewed depth and soul to these weekend-long events. This year’s tournaments will be hosted by social media persona Brandon (aka @BDotADot5) Armstrong. And every stop on the tour includes a selection of local food trucks, displays by local artists, and performances by local musicians.
#3 – Unreal NFL Experience Packages
Pepsi organized this sweepstakes to give raving NFL fans the opportunity to get physically involved in some of the most exclusive aspects of the game. They put together four amazing prize packages, each one promising a genuine once-in- a-lifetime fan experience.
The “EA SPORTS Madden NFL Experience” awarded one fan with behind-the- scenes access to the Madden NFL studio in Orlando, where the famous video game is produced. The “International Series Experience” took one fan overseas to watch the Redskins play the Bengals from the 50-yard line at Wembley Stadium in London. The winner of the “Drew Brees Experience” travelled to New Orleans to meet Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees in person for a friendly game of catch. Two fans won the “Super Bowl LI Experience” and had the opportunity walk out on the field during pre-game warmups and the post-game trophy presentation at this year’s Super Bowl.
#2 – The Pepsi Pass Mobile App
Pepsi is flexing its social marketing muscle with its new mobile app. The rewards-based app awards points to users for scanning special codes on designated Pepsi single-serve products. Users can also win points just by spending time nearby friends who also have the app installed. The Pepsi Pass app is primarily focused on popular music, but it does incorporate aspects of Pepsi’s participation in sports promotions.
Points can be redeemed for tickets to music concerts and sporting events. And points can also be used by sports fans to enter to win great VIP fan experiences like attending the MLB All-Star Week, sitting in on MLB batting practices, and viewing regular season MLB games from field-level seats.
#1 – The Pepsi Fan Deck at Levi’s Stadium
We can’t recall a more impressive stadium branding display than the new Pepsi Fan Deck. This unique installation features creative branding throughout with tables and chairs that are super-sized replicas of Pepsi bottle caps and soda cans. Groups of fans can sit together in one of the “12-pack of fans” boxes to watch the game from one of the best viewpoints in the stadium. Even the entrance to the deck is Pepsi-themed, as fans arrive on an escalator that passes through a huge funnel which is styled to resemble a Pepsi soda fountain cup – including a bright red straw.
Pepsi partnered with the George P. Johnson Experience Marketing Agency to develop the concepts for the fan deck, which have already won a Clio Award for creative excellence. The requirement they were given was to create an attraction that would “amplify the fan experience rather than interrupt it.” The result is a massive wide-open viewing deck with amazing views of the playing field and the entire stadium.
Social media opportunities abound on the Pepsi Fan Deck. In addition to the impressive pictures fans can take of the game and crowd, there is a “Legends of Now” attraction where fans can take their pictures alongside life-size cutouts of 49ers players. By sharing these photos on social media with a designated hashtag, fans can see their posts displayed in real-time on a huge Instagram wall.