Pepsi just cut a deal with Beyonce. The deal, valued at $50MM, is great news for Beyonce.
But what defines cultural leadership for brands? Is it being in business with the superstar of the moment? That feels more like now, not next. Which means your brand is where everyone else is. By definition, you’re not leading.
Cultural leadership should make people go, “Wow. Cool!” I mean, you kind of expect Pepsi to be in business with a Beyonce or some other huge pop star. But it also seems like wasted resources. And it’s not necessarily leadership. After all, it takes no courage for a brand to get into business with a pop star like Beyonce. In a brand-building-by-committee world of corporate marketing, she’s someone everyone could agree on.
Cultural leadership should enable a brand to penetrate culture in some kind of deeper, more resonant way. This only enables spectacle.
There’s nothing audacious or risky about this deal. And, for the social era, there’s not much talk value, at least not yet. But what if it was Pepsi that sponsored Felix Baumgartner instead of Red Bull? That would certainly have raised some eyebrows.
We also think of Nike as a cultural leader. Pepsi, less so.
It remains to be seen how Pepsi leverages this partnership. Of course, they’ll support whatever projects Beyonce wants to do. She gets to play with their money. I guess the balance of power is always off when you get into business with a superstar. Which is why I think it’s worth it for a brand like Pepsi with global reach to dig deeper. Find someone not quite as famous and really work with them to create something that resonates.
The partnership invites more questions: What will come from this collaboration? Can Pepsi use it to establish cultural leadership? And, once established, what will they do with it? After all, isn’t the point to try to skate to where the puck will be?
Additional questions/areas worth exploring, especially this: What are some useful metrics for cultural leadership:
- Ability to break through all the noise (awareness).
- Also talk value/virality/shareability.
- What part of it maps to volume, share, profit?
Again, it remains to be seen.
Credit where it’s due department: Tim Stock of scenarioDNA sent me off down this path. Thank you.