Pepsi and Dr Pepper’s Super Bowl Ads Are Taking a Surprisingly Healthy Tilt
Super Bowl Sunday is a day when Americans can consume millions of beers, chicken wings and slices of pizza without feeling too guilty. The biggest sports day of the year is a must-indulge event.
But the largest beverage companies are instead embracing a message of healthy consumption with the new ads they have planned for the big game. PepsiCo (PEP) and Dr Pepper Snapple (DPS)—two of the three largest soda makers—are each planning to run Super Bowl advertising spots that will tout some of the healthiest beverages in their portfolios. PepsiCo is placing a spotlight on two zero-calorie products, Pepsi Zero Sugar and the new premium bottled water LIFEWTR. Dr Pepper, meanwhile, is planning a 30-second spot that focuses on low-calorie, low-sugar Bai Brands. Coca-Cola (KO) hasn’t yet announced its Super Bowl advertising plans.
“We are listening to consumers and we are watching the choices they are making,” said Seth Kaufman, chief marketing officer of PepsiCo North America Beverages in an interview with Fortune. The ads from PepsiCo are the first time the beverage giant is running Super Bowl ads that only focus on zero-calorie drinks.
PepsiCo’s healthier advertising bet is part of a broader vision to remake the company’s beverage portfolio so that at least two-thirds will have 100 calories or fewer from added sugars by 2025. Backing LIFEWTR and Pepsi Zero Sugar also comes at a time when consumers are increasingly drinking less carbonated soft drinks and more alternative beverages that are deemed healthier.
“It is a different time now. Depending on the data, either last year or this year bottled water will surpass carbonated soft drinks in size,” Kaufman said. “It is just where consumers are moving. We want to give to the stage to something we are proud of: this premium water.”
LIFEWTR is a brand that PepsiCo debuted late last year, as it aims to tackle the $2.8 billion premium water market in the U.S. region alone. Premium waters come with higher price points but often needs more marketing than the lower-priced, bulk waters. The pricier market is dominated by Coke’s Smartwater.
PepsiCo’s 30-second LIFEWTR spot is called “Inspiration Drops” and will include the voice of singer John Legend, who is singing a version of his single “Love Me Now.” To help support the brand on the retail side, PepsiCo says there will be over 90,000 retail displays in stores during Super Bowl week. Pepsi Zero Sugar, meanwhile, will get a lead in into the halftime show.
Dr Pepper Snapple is placing a bet on Bai, which it acquired in November for $1.7 billion, with an ad that will feature Justin Timberlake. The singer is the brand’s so-called “chief flavor officer” and was an investor in Bai shortly before the Dr Pepper Snapple deal was announced.
Bai first ran an ad during the Super Bowl in 2016 with a regional ad—but that was back when the brand was a startup. Now with Dr Pepper Snapple’s deeper pockets, it is planning to go national. Bai is popular because the brand is touting the fact that the drinks only have 5 calories, 1 gram of sugar per serving and no artificial sweeteners. All of those elements are on trend with what more consumers want from their beverages today.
“When we saw the impact that last year’s commercial had on our brand awareness and engagement, we knew we had to something again, but on a national stage,” said Bai founder Ben Weiss in a statement.