‘King of Pop’ is Dead But Still Pitching Pepsi
There was a strangeness to Michael Jackson’s life and now, it seems, things are remaining that way after his death. PepsiCo in conjunction with Sony Music and Mr. Jackson’s estate is rolling out a marketing campaign to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Bad album.
Pepsi plans to manufacture one billion cans of its cola with Mr. Jackson’s silhouette on each. The entertainer, as many know, had a long association with the beverage and snack maker.
"Pepsi has always been at the forefront of pop culture, helping to shape the music landscape," said Brad Jakeman, president, global enjoyment brands, and chief creative officer, PepsiCo Global Beverages Group, in a press release. "This unique global partnership, around such a legendary music milestone, invites Pepsi fans from around the world to experience Michael Jackson’s music in an engaging and very now kind of way — it’s a model example of how Pepsi’s ‘Live for Now’ campaign can manifest itself in a way that resonates the world over."
The campaign is certainly not the first to use a departed celebrity to sell products. Many others have made use of images, movie scenes and musical recordings to hawk all types of merchandise. Retailers know first hand how the death of a celebrity can bring with it increased sales, the most recent notable case being Whitney Houston.
An Entertainment Weekly article questioned how far the use of dead celebrities would go in brand marketing. "Considering the widespread appeal of both Jackson’s oeuvre and the Pepsi brand, the partnership is suitable, but given the potentially distasteful trend of raising the dead via holograms, something tells me that we’ll soon see much more than just MJ’s silhouette popping up."
While undoubtedly loved by millions, others associate a creepiness factor with Mr. Jackson who was embroiled in various controversies, including the use of drugs and charges of inappropriate contact with minors.
"People today remember the young Jackson," Laura Ries, of Ries & Ries, told USA Today. "A dead Michael Jackson is effective; a live Michael Jackson would not have been because of all the negativity."
- Pepsi Announces Global Partnership with the Estate of Michael Jackson – PepsiCo/PRNewswire
- Pepsi bringing back Michael Jackson for new ad push – USA Today
- Pepsi to launch Michael Jackson marketing campaign – Los Angeles Times
- Pepsi will bring back Michael Jackson’s silhouette for new cans. Will you drink the King of Pop’s pop? – Entertainment Weekly
Discussion Questions: What do you think of the use of dead celebrities in brand marketing campaigns? Will Michael Jackson help retailers sell more Pepsi?