Pepsi’s Music Chief Makes the Super Bowl Sing

On the brand's ties with artists like Katy Perry

Emma Quigley, who joined PepsiCo last October as its first North American head of music, is a heavy hitter in music, having spent the previous two years leading global marketing efforts at Capitol Music Group, with earlier senior stints at EMI and Universal Music. When she joined the beverage giant, Quigley said one of her central goals was to forge relationships with emerging artists. But as the Super Bowl approaches, Pepsi's music mantle rests with superstar Katy Perry, who will head this year's halftime extravaganza.

Adweek: What's your mandate at Pepsi?

Emma Quigley: Pepsi has an incredible history in music. I intend to not only keep that tradition alive, but to also look at new ways of working with artists and with partners. Most days are filled with meetings, brainstorming and strategizing with the brands on platforms, programs and artist discussions. In between meetings, I catch up with labels, agents and managers.

My mandate here is to maintain the stellar legacy Pepsi has held for so long and continue to find ways to help us evolve and grow even further. Among other things, I'm currently looking at ways we can work with emerging artists in 2015 that will have a noticeable impact. We're also going to be working with partners that strengthen our presence in the music space.

So it's not all about superstars?

Our millennial consumers are all about discovering new artists, and Pepsi is helping to bring them a wide range of new content. Sites like Pepsi Pulse and our Artist Spotlight Program are vessels for sharing content—like our recent work with Nico & Vinz, Mayaeni and Sebastian Mikael.

What makes an artist a great match for the brand?

The Pepsi consumer comes from many different demographics. As a brand, that means our music partnerships have to span a range of genres, from pop to country to urban to Latin.

What is a deal or music play you've done for Pepsi since you joined?

My first major project [last November] involved working on our "Operation Halftime" event in Corpus Christi [Texas], featuring Blake Shelton. It was an amazing concert held on the USS Lexington for veterans and their families, which was turned into a TV spot that aired on Thanksgiving Day and kicked off our "Hype Your Hometown" campaign. Blake already had a strong history of partnership with the brand, and the nature of the event lent itself perfectly to this artist-brand partnership.

Brands today can potentially have more marketing impact for artists than record labels.

I would not discount the labels. We are not invested in artists in the same way the labels are, and it's always a lot easier when you have the ability to cherry pick. That said, there is a lot of clutter out there right now, making it difficult for artists to gain traction. Brands have the ability to cut through the clutter in a powerful way.

Do you get pitched by bands?

I do not receive demos from artists. I come across things organically and always keep my ear to the ground. But more times than not, I work with a fantastic team of people who regularly bring new music to my attention.

Is your Pepsi role similar to what you did at Capitol?

The role is very different. At PepsiCo, I have the opportunity to work with an incredibly diverse wealth of talent in a multitude of ways. It's a different challenge every day. Coming from a label, I bring a different perspective and also the unique understanding of how artists like to work with brands.

Why is Katy a great fit for halftime?

Katy Perry is a pop culture icon. Pepsi actually has a history with Katy that precedes the halftime show. We partnered on her 2013 Video Music Awards performance below the Brooklyn Bridge and helped promote her documentary Part of Me. We know millions of women tune into the Super Bowl, a number that is increasing every year. As a brand we are mindful of the purchasing power this strong demographic holds.

So, she primarily appeals to female viewers?

Katy appeals to everyone. She is one of those rare artists that is loved by men and women, young and old, and everything in between.

Lenny Kravitz is also on the bill. How does signing a '90s rocker fit into Pepsi's strategy?

Anytime you can pair artists across eras or genres you are going to get an increase in viewership and the breadth of audience you will reach.

How will Pepsi measure the success of the show?

The experience starts earlier than the actual Super Bowl. That's why this year, we really wanted to enable fans to get excited … well before the 12-minute performance. Earlier this season, we kicked off our "Hyped for Halftime" campaign, unleashing the spirit of halftime in ways that are bigger, better and earlier than ever before. We're starting the conversation in a way that drives Pepsi to own the halftime conversation for weeks leading up to the show.

Why is it smart for brands to leverage pop music?

A brand like Pepsi is able to reach an already existing, and excited, fan base of artists that otherwise might be difficult to reach. And the same goes for artists when they partner with the right type of brand.

What's your advice for brands looking to play in the music-sports space?

Sports and music programs, like any brand partnership, need to feel truly authentic, delivering a message the brand stands for in a way that is truly engaging for the target consumer. At Pepsi, music and sports are part of our DNA—we live and breathe it much like our fans do, so it is a natural fit for us to engage in such spaces.

@DaveGian David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.
Publish date: January 25, 2015 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT