Pepsi exhumes Michael Jackson for new ‘Live for Now’ global marketing campaign

In a further worrying sign that Pepsico has lost its remaining marbles, the company is about to roll out a super-promotion which includes about a billion cans of Pepsi plastered with images of (now deceased) pop uberstar Michael Jackson.

This is apparently to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Jacko’s famous album Bad. And obviously keys in with Pepsi’s new strategy (actually it’s a variation on its old strategy) of being a ‘music platform’ as opposed to a drink.

Pepsi recently shifted most of its advertising into Omnicom: TBWA Chiat Day in the US and BBDO elsewhere. This part of its new ‘Live for Now’ campaign seems to be the work of TBWA.

Jacko, of course, is more potent dead than alive – he went from being the world’s biggest entertainer (and a pretty good one when Quincy Jones was producing him) to being a complete shambles later in a life that was tragic, even by Hollywood standards. So this latest rave from the grave seems a touch tasteless. He died less than two years ago.

His relationship with Pepsi was always a bit tormented too, his hair famously caught fire filming a commercial for Pepsi back in 1984, which didn’t help his mental state. Here’s one from that campaign, with his brothers, and barnet, still in place.

Whatever, Pepsi’s ‘Live for Now’ may prove to be an acid test of crowd-sourcing, ‘let’s all be happy,’ stuff against good old ads that say something about the product. Pepsico wants to drive Pepsi up from about ten per cent of the global market to challenge Coke’s 25 per cent.

Here’s Jacko from Bad.

Bit phoney though, isn’t it?

This is a bit more like it, from earlier album Off The Wall (if you ignore the costume).

But I suspect this isn’t the rather fey Jacko (the real one) Pepsi’s buying and promoting.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.

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