Pepsi wants to become the biggest brand on YouTube, and its execs are hoping a new digital studio will be able to facilitate that goal. The beverage company has launched The Creators League, a new in-house studio that will create exciting, Internet-friendly branded content.
Pepsi has previously sponsored some of YouTube’s most popular branded videos. Its “Test Drive” and “Uncle Drew” campaigns, both of which feature star athletes disguised under heavy makeup, have each drawn tens of millions of views. Another recent video, in which an extreme athlete runs up a loop-the-loop, added another success to Pepsi’s portfolio.
The Creators League shares a lot in common with the shining star of branded YouTube content, Red Bull Media House. As with the energy drink company, Pepsi’s digital studio will often focus on sports. Pepsi CMO Frank Cooper III also believes in a philosophy Red Bull has used to great effect: Instead of using video to pitch Pepsi products, Cooper wants to create engaging, resonant content that happens to have the Pepsi name attached to it. “I try to think about what we do from the audience’s perspective,” he said. “For the most part they don’t really care that it’s delivered by a brand. It must be entertainment first.”
Cooper is one of YouTube’s biggest fans. He presented onstage at the site’s 2014 Brandcast, where he delivered the pithy line “thank god for YouTube.” His company’s branded efforts often extend to the YouTube community, including a popular collaboration with Mike Tompkins that was released last year.
For its first act, The Creators League has cooked up a series called Beats of the Beautiful Game. It’s a collection of music videos related to the World Cup, and several of the tracks, including Janelle Monae’s “Heroes”, have crossed one million views.
It’s a good place to start. Right now, YouTube has World Cup fever. If Pepsi is hoping for its new studio to make a grand entrance, it has come to the right sporting event.