Pepsi to Release New Ad Highlighting HBCU Marching Bands During SWAC Championship

Florida A&M University marching band will be featured in Pepsi's commercial. Image: Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

Pepsi will spotlight two HBCU bands in a national commercial ad. According to a press release obtained by EBONY the 60-second spot, titled “The Halftime Game” will bring the “excitement of storied HBCU band culture during one of the biggest games of the season.” The commercials are set to air on ESPN 2 during the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) championship game this weekend.   

Directed by Alan Ferguson, an HBCU alum, in collaboration with Creators League, Pepsi’s in-house studio led by Lou Arbetter, the one of a kind ad will feature two of the most renowned HBCU marching bands, Florida A&M University’s (FAMU) “Marching 100” and Jackson State University’s (JSU) “Sonic Boom of the South.” 

The $3 million ad will be seen on all SWAC media, on ABC during December’s highly-anticipated Celebration BOWL, and on national media outlets for the duration of the month.

Chauncey Hamlett, CMO for Pepsi Beverages South Division, shared Pepsi’s commitment to HBCUs and the significance of Black college band culture.

“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,” Hamlett said. “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.” 

Additionally, PepsiCo’s has partnered with Jackson State University head football Coach Deion Sanders, multi-year agreements to be the primary beverage sponsor of the SWAC, and with the National Battle of The Bands, the “She Got Now” Allen McKellar Jr. Internship Program for HBCU female students, a $100,000 donation that sponsored Hampton University’s marching band trip to perform in its first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the MTN DEW Real Change Fund, which awards HBCU Students $1 million to fund startups, and more. 

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

The national commercial is just one component of Pepsi’s initiative Racial Equality Journey initiative. In 2020, the company announced a financial investment of more than $570 million over the next five years to “elevate diverse voices within the company, supply chain partners, and communities while helping to address issues of inequality and create opportunity.” 

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