PepsiCo pits NFL legends in cooking challenge for Super Bowl push

PepsiCo brought back its “Game Day Grub Match” challenge ahead of the Super Bowl on Feb. 4. This year, the competition pitted three retired NFL players against each other to cook up game day dishes using only Pepsi ingredients and Buffalo Wild Wings sauce, according to a press release.

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Former New York Jet Nick Mangold beat out competitors Greg Jennings and Rashad Jennings to win the competition and get his creation — Cool Ranch Doritos-crusted wings with buffalo sauce and Sabra ranch tzatziki dip — on the Buffalo Wild Wings menu at Mall of America during Super Bowl weekend. Pepsi also donated $25,000 to Mangold’s choice of a local food bank through its Taste of the NFL’s Kick Hunger Challenge.

Fans can watch the three-episode competition, a collaboration between the brand and Vox Media and its in-house creative studio Vox Creative, at www.GameDayGrubMatch.com. PepsiCo is also incorporating a social sweepstakes into the campaign where fans can submit 60-second video clips through Jan. 15 describing why they should win a trip for two to Minneapolis for the game. The winner will be a “social correspondent” posting about their game-day experience on the Vox Media-owned SB Nation’s social channels.

Dive Insight:

PepsiCo’s Super Bowl marketing approach this year represents a healthy mix of what’s been proven to work in the past along with some fresh experiments. The returning “Game Day Grub Match” leans into the popularity of competitive cooking shows and taps recognizable NFL stars for a limited-run digital video series. Branded content such as this, when done well, can go viral on social media, and encouraging people to tune in and submit a video of their own for a ticket sweepstakes might bolster those chances.

PepsiCo, which coordinated the Vox partnership with Omnicom Media Group’s Content Collective and its own media agency OMD, joins other brands in putting a heavier emphasis on social and digital for its Super Bowl marketing as NFL TV ratings continue to decline. Super Bowl commercials are traditionally some of the most talked-about — and watched — of the year, but many businesses are focusing more on multichannel strategies that make a lasting impression before and after the game itself. For example, Avocados from Mexico and General Mills’ Old El Paso brand recently teamed up for an influencer outreach program called Guac Nation, which features avocado-centric recipes, in-store displays, coupons and social media content to increase engagement and sales.

Doritos, part of PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay division, is advertising during the Super Bowl this year after taking last year off. The chip brand had previously run a popular, decade-long Crash the Super Bowl competition drawing submissions from independent filmmakers but it’s currently unclear what the approach will be for 2018.

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