The Most Epic Brand-Artist Partnership: Michael Jackson And Pepsi

114459 09: Michael Jackson attends a Pepsi press conference February 3, 1992 in New York City. Entertainer Jackson accepted the largest individual sponsorship deal in history from Pepsi-Cola in 1983. (Photo by Steve Allen/Liaison)

Camille Hackney, EVP of brand partnerships and commercial licensing for Atlantic Records and head of global brand partnerships council for Warner Music Group, spoke about fine-tuning brand-artist partnerships collaborations beyond the traditional.

What defines the most successful or powerful brand-artist partnerships? 

The testament to a successful and powerful partnership is if both parties work together again. I think of our artist Janelle Monae who has worked with Pepsi on two, high-profile campaigns within the last four years—one for soccer around the World Cup in 2014, and then this past year for Super Bowl 50. They were two very different campaigns, but Pepsi chose to work with her again given her love for the brand and the great relationship that we were able to form with them.

I also believe that a great partnership is defined by the things each side does for the other, which are not in the contract. When a brand decides to support an artist’s philanthropic initiatives, works with them on a passion project or helps the artist when they are going through a hard time, I think that is the sign of true partnership and loyalty.

What do you think are some of the most epic brand-artist partnerships of all time?

This is an old one, but a partnership that defined the category was the Pepsi/Michael Jackson partnership. It really defined what a music/brand pairing could look like.

Facts About Michael Jackson’s Pepsi Endorsement Deals

In November 1983, one year after “Thriller” was released, Jackson (with his brothers) and PepsiCo struck a $5 million partnership that would shatter the record for a celebrity endorsement deal, link the two entities for a decade and set the bar for every integrated marketing campaign that would follow.

Coca-Cola offered a $1 million deal that was rejected, and the Jacksons moved on to PepsiCo, where then-CEO Roger Enrico was looking for a big idea to launch his youth-targeted “New Generation” campaign for the brand. “The goal was to make Pepsi look young and Coke look old, and Michael Jackson was in fact the choice of that generation.”


Pepsi signed a second, $10 million deal with Jackson in support of his “Bad” album and tour through 1987-88. Where Jackson’s initial deal with Pepsi was limited to the United States, this one was global, covering 20-plus countries during the singer’s world tour.


February 4, 1992- Hot on the heels of the premiere of his latest video, “Remember the Time,” Michael Jackson yesterday announced a new deal with Pepsi-Cola International, a world tour this year and the establishment of a Heal the World foundation to help underprivileged children around the world. michael jackson pepsi (2)When asked how much money the singer would receive, Peter Kendall, Pepsi’s vice president for worldwide marketing, said only, “A lot.” Later, a spokeswoman for Pepsi-Cola International said the company had a policy of not discussing financial details. Pepsi-Cola International said its deal with Mr. Jackson would cover 18 months and would involve his appearances in Pepsi commercials, as well as a tour of Europe, Asia, Australia and Latin America.

Jackson’s creative input also was groundbreaking. “Michael was very much involved in the execution of everything, from the choreography to the location scouting,” says Bob Giraldi, who directed Jackson’s most iconic Pepsi commercials — from the very first “street scene” spot, featuring kids dancing with their idol, to the “Bad” series that amounted to a mini action movie — as well as the “Beat It” music video. “He really knew what worked.

Jackson’s deals with Pepsi will likely remain the industry standard-bearer. Murphy says that 360-degree deals “are very effective, but whether they’ll ever become that front-page newsworthy really depends on the level of wattage of the artist. I don’t know that we’ll see something like this again.” ~ Brian J. Murphy, executive VP of branded entertainment at TBA Global.

Sources: MineWeb | All Things Michael

2 thoughts on “The Most Epic Brand-Artist Partnership: Michael Jackson And Pepsi

  1. I can assure Mr Murphy that he will never see anything like that again because there will never be another artist that can create the excitement Michael did or will possess the mystique Michael had. Artists today are way too over exposed to hold his level of magic.

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