Whether it’s Rihanna hollering “Everybody say HTC! Say Budweiser! River Island!” during her recent 777 tour or the hosts at last night’s Jingle Bells Ball getting the crowds at the 02 Arena to cheer louder for BlackBerry than for Girls Aloud or The Wanted, brands and music seem to be forging ever closer (and more profitable) relationships.
But the biggest signifier of the enmeshing of worldwide domination of our beloved popstars with the interests of what they can persuade us to buy came today with the announcement that Beyoncé Knowles, 31, is the new global brand ambassador for Pepsi in a deal reported to be worth $50 million.
The agreement between the former Destiny’s Child star and the purveyor of sugary soda has been forged as an expansion of a decade-long partnership.
"Pepsi embraces creativity and understands that artists evolve," Beyoncé said in a statement. "As a businesswoman, this allows me to work with a lifestyle brand with no compromise and without sacrificing my creativity."
The singer has already appeared in four Pepsi ad campaigns but has now agreed to have her image printed on Pepsi cans, bottles and other marketing materials. She will appear in a new global television advert as part of Pepsi’s “Live For Now” campaign which kicked off earlier this year featuring Nicki Minaj aiming to use music to target a younger generation of consumers.
The new advert will begin broadcasting in early 2013 timed to coincide with the release of Beyonce’s next album just after she is scheduled to perform at the Super Bowl during the NFL half-time show in New Orleans which is (you guessed it) also sponsored by Pepsi.
Pepsi says the partnership with Beyonce is a “pioneering” means of engaging with music to sell its products. Having seen growth of 10% this year, Pepsi is already the UK’s second-biggest soft drink performer selling £328.7 million-worth of drinks since last December according to the Britvic soft drinks report. But it is still behind Coca-Cola which has a 22% share of the UK market and was worth £1.1 billion in 2012 - a trend that is repeated in America and across much of the world.
"[The Pepsi deal is] a hybrid project with Beyoncé that will include standard advertising like commercials as well as a multimillion-dollar fund to support the singer's chosen creative projects," the New York Times reported.
Beyoncé's influential caché is clearly very valuable. She was ranked first on the Forbes list of ‘100 Most Powerful and Influential Musicians in the World’ in 2010 and has endorsed other brands including Tommy Hilfiger, Nintendo and Vizio. Her last album 4, released last year, became her fourth consecutive number one album on the Billboard 200 since her departure from hugely successful nineties girl group Destiny’s Child.
"It's wise for a brand like Pepsi to give an artist the ability to truly express herself, instead of just the old-school way of, 'Do you want to be in an advertisement?' This is much bigger," Lee Anne Callahan-Longo, the general manager of Beyoncé's company Parkwood Entertainment, revealed. "This is, 'How can we create something together that is truly unique?'"
The inverse power of advertising something else on a musician's career was proven this weekend when the singer catapulted into the spotlight via this year's John Lewis Christmas advert Gabrielle Aplin (who covered Frankie Goes To Hollywood's "The Power of Love") claimed the number spot in the UK Singles Charts.