Having already ended all instances of societal racism thanks to one Kendall Jenner-starring ad, Pepsi is now pulling down the curtain on another era: their run as sponsor of the Super Bowl halftime show.
After a decade as the presenting sponsor of the Big Game’s star-studded entertainment break, Pepsi has decided this year’s performance featuring Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige and Kendrick Lamar will be its last.
The soft drink giant plans to concentrate more of its media spend in digital as traditional broadcast TV audiences continue to dwindle. While the Super Bowl may be one of the last vestiges of appointment television, its halftime show faces myriad challenges from social media, streaming and other mediums.
In a statement, Pepsi said ending the partnership reflects a “larger strategic shift to bring unprecedented music and entertainment experiences” to consumers “where they are now, and where they will be in the future.”
In response to the announcement, an NFL spokesperson said, “The Super Bowl Halftime performance has grown to become the most talked about musical event of the year and delivers what advertisers most crave—aggregating a massive live audience.”
We’ve known this was possible for a while now; last fall, with the Pepsi deal set to expire, the NFL took the rights to market. At the time, estimates placed the likely cost to sponsor the show between $25 and $50 million. That’s a big outlay for twelve minutes of airtime, although whichever brand takes the slot obviously gets plenty of exposure during the NFL season and postseason.
And, hey, the halftime show might not be the cultural touchstone moment it once was, but a whole lot of people still watch. Even in a “down” recent year, for The Weeknd in 2021, the audience was still 96.7 million.
So the NFL is not going to hurt for options here. It’s a valuable space at the center of television’s biggest event. Let’s just hope it doesn’t end up with a crypto sponsor. As for the Pepsi Halftime Show, it was ubiquitous enough to be name-checked as one of modern society’s soul-crushing ills in Bo Burnham’s That Funny Feeling. So it’ll live forever, in a way.