Pepsi Launches Its First Ad Spotlighting HBCU Band Culture

Following Hampton University’s debut at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, thanks to a donation from Pepsi’s Stronger Together initiative, the soft drink company has debuted its first commercial highlighting HBCU band culture.

Pepsi’s first HBCU commercial features top-ranked Florida A&M University (FAMU) and Jackson State University (JSU) marching bands. The 60-second spot, dubbed “The Halftime Game,” spotlights the HBCU band culture during one of the biggest football games of the season.

The ad will air on Dec. 4 on ESPN 2 during this weekend’s much anticipated Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) championship game. Directed by HBCU alum Alan Ferguson in partnership with Creators League, it features FAMU’s “Marching 100” and JSU’s “Sonic Boom of the South,” showing the electricity and history they bring to game day.

“At PepsiCo, we’ve committed to supporting HBCUs year-round, and I’m honored to help shine a light on these marching bands with this new spot airing during one of the largest games of the season,” said Chauncey Hamlett, CMO/VP of PBNA, South Division.

“We wanted to spotlight these two incredible bands because we know that in HBCU culture, the game is not just about football, but also the energy, hype, and history these bands bring to halftime and beyond.”

Pepsi invested $3 million into the ad that is set to run throughout the end of the month on national media outlets. The commercial is the latest in PepsiCo’s long-term commitment to HBCUs and fostering Black talent.

“It is an esteemed honor to have been selected to participate in a nationally televised commercial with Pepsi,” said Dr. Roderick Little, JSU Director of Bands.

“Of course, this is an outstanding opportunity for our students, band, and university, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge what this affiliation means for all HBCU band programs regarding exposure that could garner the support of future donors and corporate sponsors. The future is bright for HBCU band programs because of great opportunities such as these!”

Among their efforts includes a partnership with JSU Coach Deion Sanders, multiyear partnerships with the HBCU National Battle of The Bands, and serving as the primary beverage sponsor of the Southwestern Athletic Conference.

The company also made a $100,000 donation that helped Hampton University’s marching band perform in its first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Other initiatives include the MTN DEW Real Change Fund, which awards HBCU Students $1 million to fund startups, and the “She Got Now” Allen McKellar Jr. Internship Program for HBCU female students.

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