Pepsi adverts: MJ vs One Direction

Pepsi gets celebrity boost, but Michael Jackson still tops One Direction

The announcement, on 11 October, that British boy band One Direction would star in a new TV advert doubled Pepsi’s reach score on Twitter, and contributed to a steady climb in mentions of the brand as news of the high-profile endorsement leaked out. But if we look at the social media activity generated by the release of a Pepsi advert marking the 25th anniversary of Michael Jackson’s ‘Bad’ album, it’s clear that the late singer is still the King of Pop.

On 11 October, the day it was first widely reported that Harry Styles and co. would be appearing in a Pepsi advert alongside American football star Drew Brees, news about the soft-drink giant reached the Twitter feeds of 6% of the UK Twitter population, up from 3% the previous day. The top two words mentioned alongside Pepsi on Twitter that day were “one” and “direction” – clearly showing that news of the endorsement was making an impact before the advert was even released.

But if we look back to 18 September, the day Pepsi unveiled its Michael Jackson advert, news about Pepsi reached 9% of the UK Twitter population, from just 4% the day before. Top words mentioned alongside Pepsi that day included: “Jackson”, “cola”, “Michael”, “25th” and “anniversary”. And so even from beyond the grave, it would seem The Gloved One is still a safer bet for brands wanting to have an impact on social media than the latest pop craze.

Both the One Direction and Jackson adverts are part of Pepsi’s ‘Live For Now’ campaign, a strategy to realign the brand with the pop zeitgeist, as it did successfully with Britney Spears (2001) and the Spice Girls (1997) in their respective heydays. The campaign is set to unveil more surprises, including placing images of Michael Jackson on limited edition cans in more than 20 countries, and so its social media impact is definitely worth keeping an eye on.

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