PepsiCo Inc. desperately needs some razzle dazzle to boost its brand. Who better to help than Michael Jackson, the music icon whose career made short work of attendance and album sales records?
So what if the King of Pop is no longer alive? The beverage brand, which has struggled to eclipse rival Coca Cola Co., is pairing with Sony Music and Jackson’s estate to roll out an exclusive campaign pegged to the 25th anniversary of the performer’s multiplatinum "Bad" album and tour.
One billion special edition soda cans featuring Jackson’s image will be sold around the world, Pepsi said. China will get the first batch, launching Saturday. Later this month, special-edition 16-ounce cans will be available in the U.S., followed by rollouts in Asia, South America and Europe.
The Pepsi campaign will also feature merchandise such as jackets inspired by the original "Bad" tour, new mixes of music from the album and chances to win tickets to performances of Cirque du Soleil’s "Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour."
The star, who died in 2009, had a long history with Pepsi. He first starred in an ad campaign for the company with his brothers in 1983. The next year, while on set filming a Pepsi commercial, a pyrotechnics accident severely burned the singer.
Last month, Pepsi announced the launch of a massive global branding campaign that it’s calling “Live for Now.” The first round of ads, featuring pop celebrity Nicki Minaj, will start appearing Monday.
The company, which also owns brands such as Tropicana, Gatorade and Frito-Lay, said earlier this year that it would lay off 8,700 employees through 2014 to try to boost productivity. Beverage sales in the key North American market has been sliding. Pepsi's stock price has never managed to recoup its high from when Chief Executive Indra Nooyi first took leadership in 2007.
Pepsi also said it plans to boost its advertising and marketing budget by as much as $600 million this year.
Michael Jackson had a secret fling with Whitney Houston at the peak of her fame, and even dreamed of marrying her.
He fell in love with the diva after a series of romps at his Neverland ranch and never got over her when she ended it, The Sun reports.
Their affair came six years after she slept with his older brother Jermaine, as revealed by The Sun last month.
Multi-millionaire martial arts master Matt Fiddes said: “I loved Michael so much but I finally feel it’s time to get everything that horrified and upset me over the years off my chest.
“I also know this affair will end all the myths that Michael was some kind of child molester — he was a straight man.”
Fiddes, 32, said: “One of the many stories that has never been told about Michael is that he had an ultra-secret affair with Whitney Houston that he never got over.
“He was furious when he heard she had also slept with Jermaine but this didn’t stop him holding a candle for her his whole life.”
Fiddes said Jackson and Houston met in 1991, when they were both global superstars. Jackson, then 33, had just renewed his recording contract with Sony. Houston — yet to spiral into crack cocaine addiction — was 28 and riding high on the worldwide success of her debut album which sold 25 million copies and contained mammoth hits including "Saving All My Love For You" and "How Will I Know."
“They met because they were two of the biggest recording artists on the planet and mixing in the same circles. They instantly connected as kindred spirits because they understood each other’s massive fame," Fiddes said. "Whitney practically moved in to Michael’s ranch and they had a fling like any other young couple. But Michael said later he had always hoped the relationship had gone further, and I know he dreamed of marrying her.”
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