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With Pepsi and Beyonce reuniting for a $50 million, multi-year branding deal and creative partnership beginning in 2013, what’s next for one of the music industry’s most powerful, active brand partners? According to Frank Cooper, PepsiCo’s global chief marketing officer, more collaborations with all levels of the songwriting process are in the works to make Pepsi an important, integrated part of the music ecosystem.

We’re still in the idea-development phase, but the types of things we’re talking about are creating original episodic content together. Where Beyonce may be in front of the camera but may be behind the camera. We’re talking about for live events where we might play a role in creating additional engagement experiences for fans using technology or building interactions with fans that we think we can contribute from the Pepsi side. And then of course we’re thinking about collaborating on events together, live events that we think can be an interesting way to display something Beyonce wants to do and something we want to do.

“We think there are some key producers and writers that can help us create original material,” Cooper said in an interview with Billboard Monday (Dec. 10) morning. “It’s not about integrating Pepsi so much, but making sure Pepsi plays a greater role in distributing the content.”

The strategy has precedence within the PepsiCo family, from Mountain Dew’s formation of a record label-services division called Green Label Sound to “Let’s Go,” the Calvin Harris-Ne-Yo hit from earlier this year that Pepsi commissioned as a theme song for a European soccer commercial that could play up the brand’s “Live For Now” global tagline. In September, Pepsi also teamed with music branding agency Cornerstone for NFL Anthems, a series of original team songs from artists like Aerosmith, Kelly Clarkson and Kid Rock.

Cooper says Pepsi may end up creating its own version of Green Label Sound in 2013, but is still debating what to call it. “We’re looking at names that would convey Pepsi but not have Pepsi directly in it.”

And with plans to expand music strategies for PepsiCo brands like Lipton ( Lady Antebellum was a featured band in 2012) and Mountain Dew’s DEWeezy collaboration with Lil Wayne, next year will see music playing a part in practically all of the company’s brand strategies. And in the case of Pepsi-specific initiatives, all using Beyonce as a key point of amplification. “Our goal is not to begin and end with Beyonce. It’s using Beyonce and partnering with her so we can highlight the other platforms that we’re building,” Cooper says.

Billboard caught up with Cooper to learn more about Pepsi’s plans with Beyonce, expanded relationships with Nicki Minaj and One Direction and becoming more of a label-like presence without becoming an actual record label.

Billboard: You just announced a renewed and expanded partnership with Beyonce that will include multiple creative projects in addition to traditional advertising. When did the conversations with Beyonce and her team first start?
Frank Cooper: It started in late summer of this year, and it really started around this idea we had around an artist that we thought had true global reach. Someone who really had a strong fan base in multiple territories around the world whose values align with ours – this idea of being positive and living in the now. And then we were looking for an artist that also wanted to have a true partnership, not simply looking for the most compensation in pocket. It’s about how to build content for their fans and consumers, and that led us straight to Beyonce. We started sketching out a deal and teasing ideas out, and here we are.

Pepsi had already been confirmed as the Super Bowl Halftime Show’s presenting sponsor, so did you help secure Beyonce as the performer as part of this deal?
It was a part of the conversation but it wasn’t the emphasis. We talked about Super Bowl Halftime and how Beyonce and Pepsi might collaborate together on content. That was definitely part if it, but only one piece of it.

So how might this creative partnership manifest itself – what types of projects are you working on with Beyonce?
We’re still in the idea-development phase, but the types of things we’re talking about are creating original episodic content together. Where Beyonce may be in front of the camera but may be behind the camera. We’re talking about for live events where we might play a role in creating additional engagement experiences for fans using technology or building interactions with fans that we think we can contribute from the Pepsi side. And then of course we’re thinking about collaborating on events together, live events that we think can be an interesting way to display something Beyonce wants to do and something we want to do.

Beyonce is also prepping a fifth album that might also be ready as early as first quarter. Have you been meeting with the team at Columbia to talk about ways you can help promote the project?

We’ve had a couple meetings with Columbia, including one big meeting with all hands on deck, mostly to talk about how we can all work together to make sure we contribute to the album in a way to make it the most successful global album that she’s ever done. They’re definitely at the table with us.

Have you begun conceptualizing ideas for your next TV commercial with Beyonce, and which ad agencies will you be working with?

We have a concept for that spot, which hasn’t been shot yet, so we’re still in the early stages on that. We took a team approach with agencies for Beyonce, and as part of the team we have 180 Los Angeles, TBWA\Chiat\Day Los Angeles, Organic for digital and Safari Sundays for design experiential. What we decided was that the best way to handle this project was to have a cross-disciplinary team together. We don’t care where those ideas come from when we execute it.

Beyonce is known for being extremely hands-on in the creative process, even getting final cut on all of her videos and documentary footage. How did you feel about relinquishing some of that control?
Part of the reason why we thought she was the right partner was not only because she’s so discerning, but because she’s proven herself in each of those areas, from photography to audiovisual material. What we’ve decided is these are joint efforts — neither one of us is going to run out and create something the other isn’t going to want. We’re looking at mutual approval.

She’s also been filming a documentary for HBO leading up to the Super Bowl. Might some of your negotiations be a part of that project?

We were sitting in a meeting with about 20 people and Lee Anne [Callahan-Longo, Beyonce’s business manager at Parkwood Entertainment] and Jim [Sabey] said, “Bring the cameras in! Let’s make sure we capture this time.’ And the cameras were rolling. It was this fascinating, reality-star moment where you forget the cameras are on after awhile.

So how does this creative collaboration with Beyonce set the tone for your broader plans for music in 2013?
We recognize that we have this storied history – we didn’t just wake up one morning and say, “Hey let’s get in the music business.” We also realized a good part of it is based on borrowed equity and access. But what we see is because of the massive disruptions that have happened in the music industry over the past 20 to 25 years. There’s an opportunity for Pepsi to play a much deeper role in this new music ecosystem.

We’re looking at true artist collaborations we’re putting together. A good example of that is “Let’s Go” by Calvin Harris and Ne-Yo. We actually briefed them on what we were thinking about and they took it from there and obviously came up with a hit song. It’s sold 1.4 million singles across 40 countries. We were very happy with that connection and I think that’s the tip of the iceberg.

Nicki Minaj we’re continuing with in 2013. Nicki’s international portion of her deal continues next year, and we’re just giving her access and exposure globally as a rising star on the global stage. She’s been an amazing partner for us from the Twitter shows she’s done and communicating with her fans at important moments. And something like the Michael Jackson platform, which was operated in 29 countries, on tour, in stores and we had a remix around that as well. We also have a deep collaboration in “X Factor” and with sports and music. We’re starting to create the contours of that strategy.

Who or what are some examples of folks you’re talking to for 2013?
The kind of people we’re talking to are rising stars in the U.S. or they’re regional stars outside the U.S. and we’re starting to build a portfolio of those artists. We think that we can provide tools for them, generate awareness for them and maybe even help on some collaborations. There’s really this kind of global artist collective at a central part of it. The second thing you’ll start to see is in the sports and music piece, with NFL Anthems a little bit and with Pepsi Audibles. We’re starting to build some fan-initiated activities where we invite the fans in to actually participate in the music experience and leverage the other assets we have like MLB or connections to celebrity artists. It’s all about unique forms of interaction only Pepsi can offer.

So will Pepsi become more of a label-like service for artists in 2013?
For sure we are not looking to replace the traditional record label at all. We see them as collaborators with us. We intend to work with labels, or if there’s some artists who are not signed and working outside the label system we can use them more as partners. The role that Pepsi plays really is looking at where are their market failures, where are their gaps in the marketplace that we can fill. When you look at it through that lens we become a valuable partner to the artists, to the fans and to Pepsi consumers because we’re filling something that can ultimately provide real value.

One other artist you’ve worked with this year, particularly on the sports and music side, is One Direction for an NFL commercial. Might you be able to extend that relationship next year?
We have been in conversations with them about opportunities beyond the TV spot. The guys are phenomenal as artists and as individual people. What they have planned for 2013 is awesome, so we’re looking at whether we can be a part of that. The bonus for that is they came off “The X Factor,” which has been a good relationship for us. Even though it’s not the U.S., they’re still connected to Simon Cowell and Syco.

Another packaged food company, Kraft-Nabisco’s Mondelez, is sponsoring their 2013 World Tour. Will that conflict with potential tour involvement?
When you think about this whole idea of trying to add value for us it will never be, and it should never be a simple sponsorship of any tour. It should always be, How can we create something that we think will be really engaging and of value to Pepsi consumers? There are a lot of things we can do with a group like One Direction that fulfills that particular criteria.

 

The Beyonce World