When Pepsi quietly previewed its Britney Spears TV commercial on Yahoo! hours before it aired during the March Academy Awards broadcast, fans responded in droves. Whether they were loyal Pepsi drinkers or die-hard Britney followers, Yahoo! delivered more than a million streams of the spot during a four-day period.
Last week, Pepsi was at it again. Two hours before players hit the field for Major League Baseball's 72nd All-Star Game, fans could get a sneak peek at the latest Pepsi spot, "1/2 Seconds," exclusively online at Pepsi.com. The commercial, which features baseball stars Sammy Sosa and Ken Griffey Jr., was created by Pepsi's longtime agency, BBDO in New York and aired during the game. The original Pepsi.com site was created by Tribal DDB, also in New York.
According to John Vail, Pepsi's director of digital media and marketing, the tremendous response for the online debut of the Britney ad encouraged the soft-drink company to do the cross-promotion again.
Users who logged on to preview the ad also saw behind-the-scenes footage from the commercial shoot and could enter to win items autographed by Sosa and Griffey.
The early run of the ad was done, in part, to reward the 200,000 Pepsi loyalists who visit Pepsi.com each day, according to Jeff Mordos, COO at BBDO. To encourage new users to log on, Pepsi promoted the ad preview with a one-week banner-ad blitz in Yahoo!'s sports area.
Though Mordos said he wouldn't support running an ad online months before its TV debut, he said early runs in close proximity to TV airings are effective at "getting the consumer base that much more involved with the brand."
Despite the success of this strategy, Jupiter Media Metrix senior analyst Patrick Keane doesn't believe that every brand will begin running ad previews online. He did acknowledge, however, that Internet-ad sneak peeks work as great "obsession incubators."
Sarah J. Heim, ADWEEK. July 16, 2001
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