Pepsi goes big to promote something small

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It’s not always good to be the big man. Just ask Shaquille O’Neal. 

It’s not always good to be the big man. Just ask Shaquille O’Neal. 

As Pepsi continues its 125th anniversary celebration, it is reuniting with basketball superstar Shaquille O’Neal, who had appeared in a number of the brand’s campaigns in the 1990s, to promote its 7.5-ounce mini cans. To do so, the brand is reprising the 90s-era hit “I Wish” by Skee-Lo. 

“We’re celebrating the biggest star we’ve ever had,” said Todd Kaplan, chief marketing officer for Pepsi. “Shaq was the face of our brand for much of the 90s.”

The campaign is anchored by a commercial that shows the 7-foot, one-inch O’Neal in everyday situations where being larger than average is a disadvantage, including airplanes, regular-sized beds and walking through doorways. While he does, Shaq reimagines Skee-Lo’s song with lines wishing he was “a little bit smaller.” (The rapper makes a cameo appearance at the end of the commercial.) The spot also pays homage to a 1994 Pepsi commercial featuring O’Neal for the “Big Slam” bottle. 

“Shaq has such a magnetic personality and is such a fixture in our culture, even today,” Kaplan said of the star’s lasting appeal. “He’s a fun brand ambassador for us, considering his past and relationship with us.”

Coinciding with the campaign will be a social media sweepstakes where fans can post photos of their favorite snacks or meals using the tag #BetterwithPepsi for a chance to win an Official NBA Basketball signed by O’Neal. 

The commercial will begin airing during select NBA games on ESPN and TNT beginning this week, and during the NFL broadcasts on Thanksgiving.

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