If there's one thing we've learned from Beyoncé, it's this: If you like her, you should put a ring on her. And if you don't have a ring, a sizable chunk of cash will do. Just ask Pepsi: The pop star has landed a $50 million advertising deal with the soda company. As part of the arrangement, Beyoncé will appear in a number of ads, including one following her highly anticipated halftime show at the Super Bowl in February, and will lend her face to a limited-edition line of soda cans. But the buck doesn't stop there. In exchange for her endorsements, Pepsi will devote millions to supporting the singer's creative whims, which seem relatively undefined as of yet, and which might not mention Pepsi products at all.
So why sponsor a creative package without knowing first what it is? What's Pepsi's goal? Earning a solid reputation with consumers who are "seeking a much greater authenticity in marketing from the brands they love," says Ben Sisario at The New York Times. Through this collaboration, Pepsi can act as "artistic patron" for a star who has a huge and loyal following. But won't consumers see right through the ploy? "The plan is pure inanity for Pepsi, and I'm surprised more marketers aren't calling it out for what it is," says Jonathan Salem Baskin at Forbes, who makes the valid point that this idea isn't new. Both Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera had runs as the face of Pepsi, and the soda company came out with little to show for it, as success in this kind of case is hard to measure or attribute.
But perhaps Beyoncé has reached a pinnacle of stardom these previous artists — whose musical careers started unraveling by the time they were in their mid-twenties (Bey is 31 and going strong) — never did. It's also worth noting that the only other celebrity to have his face featured on a Pepsi can in recent history was Michael Jackson. Purely from the perspective of prestige, that's not bad company to be in.
For Beyoncé, her concern should be flubbing her reputation. For a performer whose music so often highlights strong, independent, and responsible women, "who runs the world? Girls... with financial support from soda makers!" might not be the best message, says Jen Chaney at The Washington Post. She also risks the prospect of selling out, or worse, overexposure. "One has to wonder if Knowles Fatigue may begin to settle over a nation that has largely embraced Beyoncé but may not be ready, just yet, to imbibe her," Chaney says.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How academia's liberal bias is killing social science
- Why Pakistan won't hunt down the terrorists within its borders
- Pope Francis' American problem
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- A brief history of the Christmas present
- Sorry, GOP, tax cuts don't pay for themselves
- The week's best photojournalism
- 10 things you need to know today: December 20, 2014
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 4 things NASA can teach you about a good night's sleep
Subscribe to the Week