PepsiCo will be rolling out a billion cans of their popular cola featuring a silhouette of late music icon Michael Jackson as part of their global “Live Your Life” campaign, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Timed to coincide with the 25th anniversary of his classic Bad album, the campaign is part of an agreement between the beverage giant and the Jackson estate, and is also intended to help the company ramp up sales of their flagship cola after years of coming in second place to rival Coca-Cola. PepsiCo has pledged to boost its marketing budget for this year by about 20 percent, or $600 million.
The WSJ reports that a spokesperson for the Jackson estate says that while this is the first posthumous marketing deal for the pop megastar it is not the last, as more such agreements are in the works.
Not all are in agreement with the use of Jackson’s image to hawk products, though, including Scott Lerman, CEO of branding outfit Lucid Brands.
“It’s like the dead is dancing to sell your product,” Lerman said.
Despite the objections, senior PepsiCo marketing executive Frank Cooper says the campaign is not disrespectful to Jackson and is more nostalgic celebration of the singer’s music and influence than exploitation of his image.
Jackson signed his first Pepsi sponsorship deal in 1984 and appeared in several ads throughout that decade and the next. It was while shooting a Pepsi commercial in 1984 that Jackson’s hair caught fire in front of a full house of fans while staging a mock concert. Jackson suffered second-degree burns to his scalp in the accident.
The Jackson move is the latest in PepsiCo’s strategic collaborations with music artists. Back in March, the company announced that Nicki Minaj would be the face of its new “Pop” brand. Preceding that announcement was news of the Lil’ Wayne-fronted DEWeezy campaign, a joint venture between PepsiCo’s Mountain Dew brand and The Blueprint Group that launched at the annual SXSW music festival in Austin, Texas. PepsiCo also plans on releasing a series of remixes to Jackson’s “Bad” single executed by popular DJs Skrillex, Diplo and A-Trak as part of the Bad album anniversary campaign.
In the past, the company has partnered with artists including Madonna, Ray Charles (who created the famous “You got the right one baby” jingle) and Britney Spears.
The special Michael Jackson cans will be distributed in China this weekend, with rollouts in the U.S. and about 20 other countries across three continents to come later this month. The Nicki Minaj ads for the “Pop” brand will premiere next week.