Pepsi’s Iconic Music Video Campaign Reboot

In this commercial

TV Commercial Review


Iconic music video-styled spots

Pepsi (NASDAQ:PEP) has decided to take a trip down memory lane. In celebration of its 125th anniversary, the beverage giant is re-releasing some of its most iconic music video commercials featuring legends like Britney Spears, Madonna, Tina Turner, Robert Palmer, and Ray Charles. These revamped commercials are set to air during the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards, adding a layer of nostalgia to an event that celebrates the current trends in music. But does this campaign hit the right notes, or is it a tone-deaf attempt to capitalize on yesteryears? Let’s dive in.

The Strategy

Pepsi aims to blend its rich history with its current brand identity. The commercials, which were groundbreaking in their time for turning advertisements into music videos, will now feature Pepsi’s new logo and visual identity. Considering the brand’s long-standing association with music and pop culture, this is a smart move. By reviving these iconic spots, Pepsi pays homage to its past and introduces these classics to a new generation.

The Execution

The commercials are not just mere re-releases but remastered versions incorporating Pepsi’s new logo and visual design. This subtle change ensures that while nostalgia remains intact, the commercials also align with the brand’s current identity.

Pepsi ad reboot featuring iconic music video ads.
Pepsi iconic music video ads.

Britney Spears – “The Joy of Cola” (2001)

Britney Spears, dubbed the “Princess of Pop,” starred in this commercial at the peak of her career. The ad was a sensation back in the day, and its re-release is likely to generate significant buzz, especially among millennials.

Madonna – “Like A Prayer” (1989)

Madonna’s controversial “Like A Prayer” commercial is another highlight. Given that the ad hasn’t been aired in over 30 years, its re-release is bound to create a stir.

Tina Turner, Robert Palmer, and Ray Charles

These legends bring their unique flair to the campaign, each representing a different era and genre of music. Their inclusion adds depth and diversity to the campaign, making it appealing to a broader audience.

The Questions

1. Nostalgia or Desperation?

Is Pepsi’s decision to re-release these iconic commercials a smart move to leverage nostalgia, or is it a desperate attempt to regain relevance in a market dominated by innovative marketing strategies?

2. Will the New Logo Resonate?

The new Pepsi logo is prominently featured in these remastered commercials. Will this subtle change be enough to attract a younger audience while keeping the older generation engaged?

3. The Risk of Controversy

Some of these commercials, especially Madonna’s, were controversial when they first aired. Is Pepsi prepared to handle any potential backlash, or is the brand banking on controversy to drive engagement?

The glaring omission of Michael Jackson, a key figure in Pepsi’s advertising history, has sparked outrage among his fans.

The Backlash – Michael Jackson fans

Michael Jackson’s relationship with Pepsi spans over two decades, featuring campaigns even after his passing in 2012. His commercials for Pepsi include iconic spots like “New Generation” (1983), “Convention” (1984), “Chase” (1988), “Dreams” (1991), “I’ll Be There” (1993), and “Live for Now” (2012). Given this extensive history, fans are questioning why the King of Pop is conspicuously absent from Pepsi’s nostalgia-driven campaign. The omission has led to a barrage of letters, emails, and calls to Pepsi, with fans even calling for a boycott of the brand.

The MTV Factor

Adding fuel to the fire is MTV’s alleged attempts to erase Michael Jackson from its history since 2019. This has led to speculation that MTV’s influence may have played a role in Jackson’s exclusion from the campaign. The Estate of Michael Jackson was reportedly serving Pepsi at their Michael Jackson Sapphire Immersive experience, unaware that the brand would “turn its back on Michael.”

The Implications

1. Brand Loyalty vs. Public Relations

The omission of Michael Jackson raises questions about brand loyalty and public relations. Is Pepsi willing to risk alienating a significant portion of its consumer base to avoid potential controversies associated with featuring Michael Jackson?

2. The Role of MTV

Given MTV’s alleged distancing from Michael Jackson, how much influence did the network have in the decision-making process for the campaign? Could this be a joint strategy to rewrite pop culture history?

3. Long-term Brand Image

What impact will this controversy have on Pepsi’s long-term brand image? Will the brand be seen as disloyal or opportunistic, especially when it comes to leveraging its historical associations for marketing purposes?


Pepsi’s “PEPSI125” campaign is a double-edged sword. While it successfully evokes nostalgia by featuring iconic artists, the exclusion of Michael Jackson has turned it into a PR nightmare. The brand now faces a challenging path ahead, balancing the need to honor its history with the complexities of modern-day public relations and consumer sentiment. As fans continue to voice their disapproval and call for boycotts, Pepsi finds itself at a critical juncture: will it amend its course, or stick to its current strategy, potentially at the cost of consumer trust and brand loyalty? Only time will tell.


Pepsi’s latest campaign is a bold move that plays on nostalgia while integrating modern branding elements. Whether this strategy will pay off remains to be seen, but it’s clear that Pepsi is not afraid to experiment and take risks. As the commercials air during the 2023 MTV VMAs, all eyes will be on the public’s reaction, ultimately determining the campaign’s success or failure.

The new Pepsi logo and visual identity – which continues to roll onto store shelves—now anchors the revived music video commercials in the intro and end cards of each classic spot, including:

  • Tina Turner’s “Taste For Pepsi” (1986): Known around the world as the “Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll”, Tina Turner had an unmistakable voice, that was roaring across airwaves around the globe, making her one of the best-selling recording artists of all time.
  • Robert Palmer’s “Simply Irresistible” (1989): Palmer’s breakout hit topped the music charts, becoming one of the most listened-to songs of the decade, leading him to win his second GRAMMY Award.
  • Madonna’s “Like A Prayer” (1989): Following three back-to-back multi-platinum albums, the “Queen of Pop” created a hit single that was released as a single ahead of her now certified quadruple platinum album “Like A Prayer.”
  • Ray Charles’ “The Right One Baby” (1991): As one of the most important influences on popular music for over 40 years, Charles used his instantly recognizable voice to deliver the ever-so-popular catch phrase “you got the right one baby.”
  • Britney Spears’ “The Joy of Cola” (2001): Dubbed in the early millennium as the “Princess of Pop”, Spears was well on her way to becoming one of the biggest pop stars in the world, following her debut album in 1999.

The original spots of Madonna’s “Like A Prayer” and Spears’ “The Joy of Cola” have not been aired on national television in full since their original runs, over 30 and 20 years ago, respectively, making the 2023 VMAs the perfect stage for Pepsi to re-debut them. Pepsi has a long history at the VMAs, showing up consistently for decades, including the recent premiere of the Pepsi-Cola Soda Shop music video inspired by the film “Grease” in 2021.



Excellent collection of spots!

Heart or Humor9.0
Reader Rating: ( 1 vote ) 5.2

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