Pepsi scouts next pop star in new show spanning TikTok, TV

Linda J. Dodson

Dive Brief:

  • Pepsi is partnering with TikTok and MTV to produce a new music competition, “Becoming a Popstar,” premiering on March 24, per information shared with Marketing Dive.
  • The show will feature eight artists originally discovered on TikTok. During five episodes, contestants will also participate in a series of contests in addition to singing to woo the panel of judges that includes Joe Jonas, Becky G and Sean Bankhead. Each week, contestants will create original songs and accompanying music videos that will first air on TikTok.
  • The show, marketed as a modern reimagining of the music competition genre, takes advantage of the longstanding partnership between PepsiCo and MTV, while also engaging younger generations by recruiting talent from the popular video sharing app TikTok.

Dive Insight:

Pepsi has long had ties to the music industry, including a longstanding partnership with MTV and sponsoring the Super Bowl halftime show. The new “Becoming a Popstar” show helps to deepen that association, especially with younger consumers, by going beyond sponsoring content to being a part of developing new programming from the very beginning.

TikTok is an app most commonly used by younger people, with 25% of its user base between the ages of 10 and 19, and 22.4% between 20 and 29. By casting popular creators on the app, Pepsi’s new show will most likely draw in younger generations who are familiar with such creators, increasing brand recognition in this population.

The contest leans heavily into trends that first emerged on the platform, such as a “Duets” competition, where contestants will pair off to create an original song and visual performance. The show also encourages fan engagement through the TikTok app, on which users can vote on their favorite videos each week. Pulling show concepts from the app’s features and collaborative nature aim to convey the influence and impact TikTok has had on culture and the music industry at large. On top of the grand prize of appearing in a Pepsi commercial during the Video Music Awards on June 5, Pepsi will provide a prize to each weekly winner.

The show aligns with Pepsi’s strategy of incorporating the music industry into its marketing. For example, this year’s Pepsi Super Bowl Halftime Show featured hip-hop artists popular in the ’90s, and the company recently released a series of non-fungible tokens celebrating music history.

“Becoming a Popstar,” whose name appears to be a play on soda’s other name of “pop,” allows Pepsi to reach a wide audience of young people while also generating brand buzz across two media channels.

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