Small but mighty
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Pepsi’s new campaign, starring its biggest brand ambassador.
November 20, 2023

Marketing Brew


It’s Monday. After a viral TikTok showing a woman’s Stanley tumbler emerging unscathed (and still containing ice) after a car fire, Stanley’s president took to the platform to reiterate that the tumblers are “built for life.” The company said it would send the woman a replacement Stanley—and car. Don’t worry, she’s fine too.

In today’s edition:

—Alyssa Meyers, Kelsey Sutton, Jeena Sharma



Shaq holding mini cans of Pepsi Pepsi

Pepsi’s latest campaign is for all the short kings out there, even though it stars Shaquille O’Neal.

As part of an ongoing 125th anniversary celebration, the soft-drink brand is taking a look back at some of the most significant moments in its history. That includes partnerships with big celebrities, and Shaq, “quite literally,” is one of the biggest, CMO Todd Kaplan told Marketing Brew.

The product Shaq is promoting now, though, is anything but. While the new campaign, which rolled out Monday, is inspired by Pepsi’s “Big Slam” campaign with Shaq from 1994, this time around, the former basketball star serves as the face of Pepsi’s 7.5-ounce mini cans.

Blast from the past: Shaq was “the face of our brand” for several campaigns in the ’90s, Kaplan told us, and while Pepsi has worked with Shaq in various capacities in the decades since, the mini-cans ad marks the first time he’s done a TV commercial with the brand in the 21st century. It’s called “I Wish,” named after rapper Skee-Lo’s hit song from 1995 that’s recently seen something of a renaissance on TikTok. An updated version of the song serves as the track for the ad, and Skee-Lo himself makes a cameo at the end of the spot.

The original song starts with the lyrics, “I wish I was a little bit taller,” but in the new version, Skee-Lo sings, “I wish I was a little bit smaller.” The rest of the lyrics also have to do with “the hardships of being such a tall person in a small man’s world,” Kaplan said. The ad is accompanied by visuals of Shaq in those scenarios, like not having enough room in an airplane seat—a throwback to the visuals featured in the original “Big Slam” ad.

The ad campaign includes 60- and 30-second spots, which will air against “high-visibility” moments on TV, including some NBA games and Thanksgiving NFL games, as well as a long-form version available to watch online, Kaplan said. There’s also a social media giveaway that fans can enter to win an official NBA basketball signed by Shaq.

The spots are scheduled to continue running through the end of the year.

Read more here.—AM



AI Academy: Put AI to work for customer service


85% of CEOs surveyed by the IBM Institute for Business Value say that generative AI will be interacting directly with customers in the next 2 years—if it’s not already.

It’s a strategic imperative to deliver the best experience possible to your customers, and today’s consumers demand superior service, regardless of the type of business or their specific need.

To meet these demands, businesses must be prepared to not just add generative AI to existing systems but also fully harness AI’s potential with a mix of vision, technology, employee talent and skills, and change management.

In this guidebook, learn how to take the next steps to combine the capabilities of traditional and generative AI.


Game on

the Roku and Unity logos in white on a purple background Roku

Roku is going after a piece of the mobile app marketing pie.

The connected TV platform, which reported 75.8 million active accounts in the most recent quarter, has struck up a partnership with the cross-platform game engine Unity to bring performance-based mobile app ad campaigns to TV.

As part of the partnership, which is currently in beta, advertisers using Unity’s Luna ad platform can purchase Roku ad inventory for campaigns designed around app installs and downloads, Miles Fisher, Roku’s senior director, head of emerging and programmatic sales, said.

Ads for mobile apps that run on the platform will have the option for viewers to use their Roku remotes to either send themselves a text with a download link, or go directly to an app store to initiate a download, Fisher told us.

Earn, baby, earn: Through the partnership, Roku is aiming to increase the number of mobile app marketers spending on its platform “exponentially,” Fisher said.

“A lot of the mobile app marketers that are advertising on Roku today are really focused on brand KPIs,” he told Marketing Brew. “This taps into a really diverse set of advertisers that we historically haven’t worked with, and an entirely new set of budgets.”

Rewind: For more than a year, Roku has been steadily increasing investment in performance-based ads that encourage consumers to take action, like purchasing items from Walmart and Shopify, or ordering delivery from DoorDash. The company has also announced new measurement pacts to try to tie ads to outcomes like purchases.

Last quarter, the company reported 20% YoY revenue growth, which was driven in part by what Roku Media President Charlie Collier said was a “solid rebound” in video advertising. It’s a promising sign after a less-than-rosy year for the TV industry that has, at least at Roku, included layoffs.—KS



Black Friday bump

Black Friday crowd on South Park South Park/Paramount Global via Giphy

For consumers, Black Friday means one thing: incredible discounts. From fashion and beauty to electronics and big box retailers, nearly every category seems to go all out for the occasion as holiday shopping gets into full swing.

According to one report, Americans tend to save 24% on average with Black Friday deals. In 2022, we spent $9.1 billion shopping online during the Thanksgiving weekend sales.

And this year, the numbers might even reach record highs, as inflation coupled with holiday gifting pressure drive customers in a frantic search for a good deal.

  • These days, most of us think a good deal is a discount of at least 30%, according to a report from Boston Consulting Group.
  • And this year, retailers like Macy’s and JCPenney will be offering nearly 60% off.

That number may seem high, but it’s relatively easy for a big chain retailer to pull off, especially if it means higher consumer spending overall. But where does it leave smaller businesses, which have smaller profit margins at stake as they vie for customer attention?

Keep reading on Retail Brew.—JS




Customer service is now the #1 generative AI priority for surveyed CEOs. Here’s how to get started.


French press Morning Brew

There are a lot of bad marketing tips out there. These aren’t those.

Makeover: A marketing executive broke down lessons learned from the partnership between Skims and the NBA.

We thought you’d never ask: There’s, in fact, a difference between an influencer and a creator—and different considerations before hiring either.

Take the lead: All you need to know about lead generation on TikTok.

Read these: Five exciting use cases demonstrate how generative AI can change the game in customer service.*

*A message from our sponsor.


football play illustrations on billboards on buildings Francis Scialabba

Executive moves across the industry.

  • Nicole Hubbard Graham is Nike’s new CMO. She previously worked for the brand for 18 years before leaving in 2021 to start her own marketing shop, and is now coming back.
  • Benoit Garbe is exiting his role as US CMO at AB InBev. US CCO Kyle Norrington will assume his duties.
  • Nick Baughan is the new head of global agencies at Meta. He is currently the tech giant’s director of business partners for the UK and Ireland.


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