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Pepsi Highlights HBCU Marching Bands and Culture in a New High-Profile Commercial

As part of a companywide initiative to foster and support Black talent, Pepsi (a DiversityInc Noteworthy company) has just debuted a new TV commercial spotlighting two of the country’s top HBCU marching bands.

Jasmine Browley of Essence reported that the 60-second spot, titled “The Halftime Game,” was designed to “bring the excitement of storied HBCU band culture during one of the biggest football games of the season.” The commercial debuted during the much anticipated Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) championship game on ESPN 2. 

In a statement, Pepsi’s Chauncey Hamlett, CMO/VP of PBNA, South Division, said, “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. 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.” 

According to Browley, “the first-of-its-kind ad features two top-ranking HBCU marching bands, Florida A&M University (FAMU) ‘Marching 100’ and Jackson State University (JSU) ‘Sonic Boom of the South,’ highlighting the electricity and history they bring to game day.”

Pepsi has said it will spend over $3 million promoting the ad that will now run throughout the end of the year. 

In addition to the HBCU band spot, Browley reported that Pepsi’s ongoing commitment to Black talent also includes a “partnership with JSU Coach Deion Sanders, multi-year partnerships with the National Battle of The Bands and as the primary beverage sponsor of the Southwestern Athletic Conference, the ‘She Got Now’ Allen McKellar Jr. Internship Program for HBCU female students, a $100,000 donation that made it possible for Hampton University’s marching band to perform in its first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the MTN DEW Real Change Fund, which awards HBCU Students $1 million to fund startups.”

Members of the bands from Florida A&M and Jackson State said they were both honored to be included in the commercials, as were the leaders of musical departments of both schools.

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

“This ad campaign provides a fitting showcase for two exceptional music programs,” added Dr. Shelby Chipman, FAMU’s Director of Bands. “Our marching band students are committed to excellence in the classroom and performing on the field. This campaign celebrates their dedication and talent. Fans of the incomparable Marching ‘100’ will be pleased. It was an amazing experience for our students to work with the production team during their visit to our campus.”  


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