Pepsi, Yahoo! At It Again with Britney Spears Promotion

Yahoo and Pepsi are continuing their Fusion Marketing agreement, with new work tapping the soft drink giant’s new spokesperson — Britney Spears.

On Sunday, Purchase, N.Y.-based Pepsi-Cola will offer a “first look” at its new commercial featuring the teen pop sensation two hours before its worldwide broadcast debut, during the Academy Awards.

The commercial, “Performance,” features Spears singing the “Joy of Pepsi” song, and will be available at pepsi.yahoo.com. BBDO New York directed the spot for Pepsi-Cola, which recently signed on to co-sponsor Spears’ upcoming tour.

To support the online debut, Pepsi has purchased all the media available on the Yahoo home page during the weekend of the Academy Awards.

It’s the first time that Pepsi has premiered a new commercial online — and the first time a company has been the exclusive advertiser on Santa Clara, Calif.-based Yahoo’s front page.

“We’ve never premiered a commercial online, but considering the audience that Yahoo delivers, it is the perfect place to showcase new Pepsi advertising,” said Dawn Hudson, senior vice president for strategy and marketing at Pepsi-Cola North America.

In addition, for the week following the Academy Awards, the only place for consumers to view the commercial will be at the site.

“Using the Web and Yahoo Broadcast as the stage to unveil their new commercial, Pepsi continues to lead the way in defining how advertising can truly touch consumers,” said Murray Gaylord, vice president of brand marketing for Yahoo. “As the exclusive advertiser on the Web’s most visited site during the weekend of the world’s biggest entertainment awards show, Pepsi can capitalize on massive consumer interest in both Britney and the Academy Awards.”

Yahoo also will be using the occasion to show off, using its new, larger ad sizes during the promotion — continuing a trend among online publishers to roll out bigger ads to appeal to advertisers. Yahoo’s new ads will also incorporate rich media, which to date has been rare on Yahoo.

Pepsi and Yahoo are already working to build buzz around the event. The portal will distribute permission-based emails to its users about the debut, for instance. Additionally, beginning Tuesday evening, the pepsi.yahoo.com/britney site will begin showing behind-the-scenes footage, excerpts from Spears’ diary documenting the shoot, and a 15-second “teaser”.

Will fans want to see a preview of a commercial? Pepsi and Yahoo are betting they will. But just in case, the companies are running a sweepstakes concurrently, to sweeten the deal. Fans can enter to win a jumpsuit worn by Spears in the commercial, autographed photos and “Joy of Pepsi” music CDs.

The effort is the third major Fusion Marketing effort Yahoo has sold to Pepsi since the firms began dealing in 2000. The first program, PepsiStuff.com, registered more than three million participants in an under-the-cap prize drawing. During this year’s Super Bowl, Yahoo hosted “Your Vote Counts,” which encouraged users to vote for their favorite Pepsi Super Bowl commercial.

While billings on this latest work were not disclosed, it’s a good sign for Yahoo, which has been struggling to keep ad revenues up even as industry-wide spending declines.

Furthermore, as the industry heads into an uncertain future — with analysts predicting lower-than-expected revenues for online advertising during the rest of 2001 — continuing relationships with traditional advertisers like Pepsi could help the portal weather the storm better than its smaller competitors.

However, Yahoo will have to do this largely without the aid of its top-ranking salesman — chief sales and marketing officer Anil Singh, who will retire in May — and with a new CEO at the helm, following chairman Tim Koogle’s decision to vacate the post.

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