Pepsi, Pizza Hut put soccer fans in Paul Pogba’s shoes with AR game

Dive Brief:

  • Pepsi is teaming with Yum Brands chains Pizza Hut and KFC for activations related to soccer star Paul Pogba as the UEFA Champions League competition nears its close, per a news release.
  • Together with Pizza Hut and production firm Tool of North America, the soft drink marketer developed an augmented reality (AR) mobile game in the runner genre that puts players in the shoes of Pogba as he dribbles the ball and slides under obstacles to obtain points in the form of Pepsi and Pizza Hut icons. “Score with Pogba” can be accessed by scanning QR codes on select products, points of sale and through a microsite.
  • The KFC collaboration, which was executed with the Sky Pie studio, involved building an elaborate Rube Goldberg-esque contraption that serves a bucket of fried chicken with a freshly poured Pepsi. The machine was constructed in New York and filmed for digital and social content that attempts to encapsulate the small moments that build toward the UEFA championship match.

Dive Insight:

Pepsi is pulling out several stops to generate buzz in the ramp-up to the UEFA Champions League final on May 28. Rather than focus on the broader sport of soccer, the soda brand is spotlighting midfielder Paul Pogba, who is planning to leave Manchester United when his contract expires in June and is a desired transfer on the market, according to media reports.

The athlete has a long-standing relationship with Pepsi and “Score with Pogba” marks the first time he’s starred in his own video game. Pepsi and restaurant partner Pizza Hut are tailoring their effort to the hyper-casual mobile gaming category that’s seen a bump in popularity during the pandemic and reaches a more diverse audience than more hardcore console offerings.

Participants who rack up points in “Score with Pogba” have the chance to land on a leader board and create a custom player card showing off their stats to share on social media. The experience is available in 20 countries and accessed through special packaging and in-store collateral, bridging mobile and real-world marketing elements.

The KFC portion of Pepsi’s Pogba campaign is more conceptual, attempting to embody the “micro moments” that accumulate in the lead-up to the UEFA Champions League grand finale through a Rube Goldberg device. In a promotional video, Pogba kicks a soccer ball through floating hoops carried by drones to hit the contraption and kick off a process that eventually serves him a meal of KFC and Pepsi.

Soccer continues to hold a significant place in PepsiCo’s sports marketing playbook. The company has been a partner of the UEFA Champions League since 2015, and its current sponsorship agreement with the division extends through the 2024 season. The marketer has recently broadened the brands that activate around the soccer league, with the addition of Rockstar Energy to a roster that already includes Pepsi Max, Lay’s and Gatorade, per Adweek. Campaigns are also increasingly targeted at US markets as professional soccer gains greater traction in the country.

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