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How Pepsi Dropped Messi, Pogba and Ronaldinho into the ‘Nutmeg Royale’


LBB’s Ben Conway goes behind the scenes of Pepsi MAX’s new film with PepsiCo’s senior director, global marketing, Gustavo Reyna, and creatives at BBDO Argentina

How Pepsi Dropped Messi, Pogba and Ronaldinho into the ‘Nutmeg Royale’

Inspired by the iconic early noughties Pepsi ads that saw footballers take on medieval armies, Sumo wrestlers and even more outlandish opponents, Pepsi’s latest film for the launch of its ‘Thirsty for More’ platform, titled ‘Nutmeg Royale’, shows some of football’s greatest ever ‘nutmeggers’ take on an entire town.

To the soundtrack of Fatboy Slim’s ‘Rockafeller Skank’, the seven-time Ballon D’Or winner, Lionel Messi, and other iconic players and pundits of the footballing world - Paul Pogba, Ronaldinho, Peter Drury and more - have their skills put to the test - competing to score the most ‘nutmegs’ in a vibrant and energetic spot for Pepsi MAX. Everyone and everything - man, animal and otherwise - becomes a target of the footballers, freestylers and fans that participate in the ‘Nutmeg Royale’. 

Created by BBDO Argentina and directed by Ernest Desumbila, the film is filled to the brim with classic football and Pepsi references, and leaps out of the screen with colourful, retro video game-inspired graphics. To discuss how the new platform-launching project came about, travelling the world with footballing icons and filming football’s most impressive trick with the GOAT, Lionel Messi, LBB’s Ben Conway spoke with PepsiCo’s senior director of global marketing, Gustavo Reyna, and BBDO Argentina’s chief creative officers, Joaquín Campins and Christian Rosli.

LBB> Have you worked with BBDO Argentina before? How did this campaign come about?

Gustavo> Yes, Pepsi has worked with BBDO Argentina across several regional campaigns over the years. This campaign came about through a creative pitch - BBDO Argentina was selected as the winning agency, and we began working on ‘Nutmeg Royale’. We couldn’t be happier with the results! 

The idea for ‘Nutmeg Royale’ started as a simple, single-minded creative brief. However, this also proved our first major challenge – taking something simple and making it unforgettable. From the outset, BBDO Argentina demonstrated a deep knowledge of football culture, building their response from the insights of true football fans, while finding a connection with both brand and product.

Joaquín and Christian> Inspired by some of Pepsi’s glorious campaigns from the past, as well as modern-day pop and football culture, it's full of cameos and even a subtle QR code for football fans to discover. Pepsi is all about pop culture, music, fashion, and a pinch of a defiant attitude. We found the nutmeg football skill to be the perfect example of everything Pepsi represents. We also realised that no one can resist the temptation to ‘meg’ someone if the chance is given - even if the victim is your most precious idol! We found that funny, and the script almost came to life and wrote itself from that point.

Gustavo> We wanted to create something reminiscent of our early-2000s hero films. ‘Nutmeg Royale’ is packed full of cameos and show-stopping moments, all of which pay homage to the unforgettable football campaigns that Pepsi is renowned for. We even utilised the famous Pepsi jersey from our 2002 Sumo ad, which was great to see make a comeback. We brought ‘Nutmeg Royale’ to life with the help of our world-class football icons while featuring Fatboy Slim’s ‘Rockafeller Skank’ - a ‘90s football culture favourite - as our soundtrack, but we also added a few contemporary twists to make it fresh and cool for today’s football fans and younger generations. 

LBB> How did you get all of the players involved? And how did their individual talents and footballing styles influence the spot?

Gustavo> Leo Messi, Ronaldinho and Paul Pogba are world-class players, and arguably the best ‘nutmeggers’ in the game - both past and present. They have been an important part of the Pepsi MAX football squad for some time now, and it made perfect sense to feature them in a campaign centred around the skill they are masters of. We met with each of the players, showing them storyboards and introducing them to the new brand tagline, with the three all-time greats loving the story and being eager to participate. They didn’t even have to act! We just asked them to be themselves and have fun with it… and the end result speaks for itself. Pogba brought his usual flare and quick feet, Ronaldinho displayed his outrageous football skills, and Messi reminded us why he is the GOAT, all while helping us to launch the new global brand tagline ‘Thirsty for More’.

Joaquín and Christian> The players were locked from the start, thanks to the brilliant relationships they already have with the brand. Pepsi is a master of engaging culturally significant big names and freestyle talent - all incredibly gifted across their varying professions - highlighting that the modern game we know and love goes much further than what happens on the pitch. Rather, it is a cultural phenomenon that encompasses fashion, skills, social media, gaming, and more. 

We knew it was a global film, so we wanted to represent that global feeling. We wanted it to be epic and iconic. The story shows how everyone around the world becomes a spectator of this match. Social media and gaming world elements were other ways we found to tell this story. When Peter Drury was mentioned, we instantly knew we had to use him! His voice and style is so unique, and he adds something very real to the film. His voice has been immortalised in some of Messi’s iconic moments during the European competitions, so there is also a nice link between the two of them. 

Gustavo> Working with football personalities such as Fabrizio Romano and Peter Drury to make cameo appearances, as well as football freestylers Luva de Pedreiro and UK-based Kaljit Atwal, allowed us to integrate football culture authentically into the hero film, with the latter two free-spirited freestylers perfectly summing up the ‘Thirsty’ generation – showcasing our diverse and unique global football culture both on and off the pitch.

LBB> Who did you work with on the production for the spot? And how were the shoots generally? 

Joaquín and Christian> It was one of the most ambitious and exciting projects we have been involved in. Pre and post-production took place in three different countries simultaneously - Argentina, UK and Spain - while the shoots took place in more. The campaign truly represents the global football community based on filming sets and locations alone! The campaign was beautifully chaotic - we had so much fun and we overcame challenges together. It was hot, we had equipment malfunctions, timelines were hectic… but seeing the end product made it all worth it. 

Plus, you don’t get the chance to meet your idols - while you are travelling around the globe, no less - every day. There was a lot of post-production involved to really make the film pop, which was made possible with help from specialist agencies, Ernest Desumbila, Primo Content and Sauvage TV. It truly was a team effort!

LBB> How does this spot fit in with the larger ‘Thirsty for More’ campaign?

Gustavo> ‘Nutmeg Royale’ is the first global campaign to fall under this exciting new tagline, which will shape all of our future campaigns and aim to pull back the curtain on a group of trailblazers and go-getters that we are calling ‘Generation Thirsty’. This tribe of restless, fun-loving individuals embrace their curiosity and refuse to be held back. The ‘Nutmeg Royale’ celebrates the game’s craftiest move, a trick reserved for the risk-takers who are thirsty for the rush of the game. It requires confidence, skill and impeccable timing, making it the perfect launchpad for our new tagline and its evolution over the years to come. 

LBB> What was the hardest challenge you faced in this campaign - and how did you overcome it?

Gustavo> Whether creative or logistical, every campaign has its hurdles. It’s all part of the process! Big casts, tight timelines and a lot of filming logistics meant there was plenty to juggle. We needed to find a way to ensure we weren’t compromising on output quality, and we wanted to engage a film director that would take the creative gold mine we had and elevate it even further. Working with [director] Ernest Desumbila, supported by the crews from Primo Content and Sauvage.TV, we challenged ourselves to take the concept beyond an epic football film and really push it into football culture, which has led us to fashion collabs, user-led partnerships on TikTok, and surprises that are still to come.

Joaquín and Christian> The brief challenged us creatively and logistically, but we knew that it had the potential to be one of the most memorable football films in recent memory. We immediately got to work and pushed ourselves, exceeding our own expectations of what was possible in the process. There were technical and logistical difficulties, and we battled climates and schedules, but our team worked tirelessly to create magic. One of the most challenging aspects was to create a global campaign that would resonate with global audiences, but with the client’s trust and vision, we created something truly memorable that we are so proud to have been a part of. 

LBB> What can we expect from the rest of the ‘Thirsty for More’ campaign?

Gustavo> The launch of ‘Nutmeg Royale’ is just the first in a series of exciting brand happenings to support the ‘Thirsty for More’ brand platform. The feedback we’ve received has exceeded all our expectations, and we are so humbled and overwhelmed by the love, support and enthusiasm it has received from football fans around the world. We recently just announced Real Madrid star Vinicius Jr. as our latest brand ambassador with the launch of our fashion collection with UK football designers, Art of Football, and there is still plenty to come before the end of the year - so stay tuned!

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BBDO Argentina, Thu, 10 Nov 2022 18:14:00 GMT