It is no secret that Pepsi has collaborated with some of the world’s most celebrated performers, including Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey and Beyoncé, to name just a few, but now it is putting its focus on historically Black colleges and universities.
Pepsi announced it would debut a national ad featuring two of the most celebrated HBCU bands, Florida A&M University’s (FAMU) “Marching 100” and Jackson State University’s (JSU) “Sonic Boom of the South,” for the first time this weekend.
“The Halftime Game” ad will honor the energy and history HBCU band culture brings to game day.
“We know that in HBCU culture, the game is not just about football, but also the energy, hype and history these bands bring to halftime and beyond,” Chauncey Hamlett, VP and CMO for Pepsi Beverages South Division, said in a press release.
The first-of-its-kind ad, directed by HBCU alum Alan Ferguson and produced by Pepsi’s in-house studio, Creators League, airs Dec. 4 on ESPN 2 during this weekend’s much-anticipated Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) championship game between Prairie View A&M University and Jackson State.
In addition to airing during the December Celebration Bowl, Pepsi will run its “The Halftime Game” ad through national media channels, including on ABC, during the Dec. 18 Cricket Celebration Bowl and across SWAC media.
The $3 million 60-second ad is Pepsi’s latest effort to cultivate Black talent. The company also provided a $100,000 contribution that allowed Hampton University’s marching band to perform in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Earlier this year, Pepsi established a partnership with Coach Deion Sanders of Jackson State and joined forces with the SWAC as a major sponsor.
Dr. Shelby Chipman, FAMU director of bands, said working with the production team on campus was a fantastic experience for the students.
“This ad campaign provides a fitting showcase for two exceptional music programs,” Chipman said, according to WFTV. “Our marching band students are committed to excellence in the classroom and performing on the field.”
The Orlando Sentinel reports that in 2020, Pepsi committed to investing more than $570 million over the next five years, as part of the company’s Racial Equality Journey, to “elevate diverse voices within the company.” Through the initiative, Pepsi aims to address issues of inequality.