Movements - Bringing the Dead Celebrity Back to Life

Posted on 28th May 2012 by Scott Goodson in Blog

Pepsi has just resurrected a partnership that some thought had died with its superstar. In an exclusive global deal Pepsico has teamed up with the estate of Michael Jackson as part of its ‘Live for Now’ campaign, which aims to firmly re-establish the brand as the pop cultural leader at the fizzy forefront of current entertainment amongst the teen and youth market.

The ‘Live for Now’ Movement aims to engage with this fickle group by using music influencers, including Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj, to remind them that they should be the number one soda of choice for their generation through mediums they understand and talk about – pop music and culture.

But does the thought of Pepsi teaming up again with Michael Jackson leave a bad taste in the mouth? For some, the answer is a resounding yes. Pepsi teamed up with Jackson before – the relationship spanned over 25 years. It sponsored the record-breaking Bad tour in the 80s and ran various successful Jackson commercials. As part of ‘Live for Now’ Jackson’s silhouette will now grace over a billion special edition Pepsi cans with tie-ins to merchandise and remixed tracks from the Bad album, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.

But some just can’t forget that it was Pepsi who was shooting the commercial where Jackson suffered third-degree burns in 1984 – an incident which many fans blame for the start of Jackson’s now well-documented drug problems.

As such, some have questioned the suitability of this resurrected partnership. Jackson himself isn’t here to sanction it, as with all dead celebrities it’s their estates which are responsible for ensuring legacy through carefully chosen brand tie-ins which have mutual benefit.

And this is perhaps the secret of success in branding a dead celebrity. You have to please the fans – with the power of social networks, fans can make or break a campaign by either backing or boycotting.

But you also have to bring back that celebrity in a current way. Elvis and Lennon probably mean little to today’s youth generation, they’re stagnant ‘brands’ which have, as yet, not hit the right note amongst this group.

Which is why Pepsi have gone down the route of bringing Jackson’s music to a new generation through modern methods, including the Pepsi Pulse interactive ‘Live for Now’ website which has real-time updates about everything to do with pop culture – events for your area, challenges, offers and more.

It’s ‘Live for Now’ Movement captures the very spirit of youth, encouraging inspiration, motivation and a shared passion for everything pop, with natural social media interaction. The fact that Jackson may or may not have actually drank Pepsi is completely irrelevant, as with all successful Movements it’s not actually about the product itself.

So what’s next in the world of dead celebrity branding? Ask Tupac. He appeared on stage at Coachella - albeit in hologram form – and with the advent of this technology it’s surely just the beginning of a long-departed celebrity’s new life. Advertising, commercials, tours ….suddenly it seems the dead are the hottest tickets in town.

Image Credit: Palette7 /

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