Jazzed Up Bubbles

When you think of iconic celebrity endorsements, you might think of Pepsi’s list of big-name alumni like Beyoncé, Michael Jackson, and Britney Spears.[i] Fragrance commercials come to mind – Charlize Theron for Dior and Cara Delevingne for Chanel. Or perhaps you think of George Clooney’s $40 million deal with Nespresso.[ii]

Celebrity endorsements have been around for as long as the concept of celebrity has existed. In its infancy, celebrity endorsements didn’t even require a clear connection between a brand and a name. Pairing celebrities with relevant products only came about in the 1990s and early 2000s. As social media has risen in popularity, so has the idea of a “personal brand,” making that connection between company culture and celebrity persona more important.[iii]

For example, look at PepsiCo, a company with a bold, modern look who favors bold, modern celebrity endorsers. Specifically consider PepsiCo’s newest brand of sparkling water, Bubly. According to their website, “Bubly is an unsweetened sparkling water that playfully instigates fun and positivity in everyday life. Available in 16 flavors, Bubly sparkling water pairs crisp, sparkling water with natural fruit flavors to provide a delicious taste with no calories, no sweeteners, all smiles.”[iv]

Bubly has been on the scene since 2018 and has since launched a number of additional product lines.[v] In 2019, the company contracted with Michael Bublé for a series of advertisements where he plays with the Bubly/Bublé relationship, insisting that the water’s name is pronounced “boo-blay,” like his last name. Bublé was even featured in the company’s 2021 Super Bowl Commercial:

Michael Bublé has been called the “preeminent neo-crooner of his generation,” drawing his inspiration from iconic artists like Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, and Harry Connick Jr. He has over four million followers on Spotify and over nine million monthly listeners.[vi] His partnership with Bubly suits his goofy personality and has continued to this day, branching into the new caffeinated “Bubly bounce” line, as well as the company’s new Bubly drops for SodaStream. 

The new product lines seem to be a good fit for Bubly, too. As Zach Harris, vice-president, water portfolio at PepsiCo Beverages North America, says of Bubly bounce: “Bubly sparkling water was created to bring more smiles into the sparkling water category, and new Bubly bounce takes it to the next level with caffeine. As more individuals seek out sparkling waters with added benefits, Bubly bounce delivers all of the delicious flavour and hydration of the original, now with just a kick of caffeine.” [vii]

Photo by Any Lane from Pexels

Additionally, Bubly was initially launched as PepsiCo’s first plastic-free sparkling water. You won’t find the traditional 2-Liter jugs of water at your local supermarket. This has meant lower sales than the company would like – so they created Bubly drops, an incredibly savvy way to repurpose the 1-Liter reusable SodaStream bottles as Bubly’s larger-serve format.[viii]

The Bublé/Bubly partnership applies a number of essential items for a successful celebrity endorsement. First, the relationship between “Bubly” and “Bublé” is immediately apparent to consumers. It also makes brand recall extremely easy; when consumers see Bubly in their local supermarkets, it’s easy to giggle and pronounce it “boo-blay,” as if they are jazzing up the name (a phrase that Bublé would love, Jazz artist that he is). 

This, in turn, sparks a smile, which relates to Bubly’s core mission of bringing more smiles to the sparkling water industry. Both the man and the brand have playful, fun, bubbly personalities that mesh well together. It’s an extremely beneficial partnership, and other companies would benefit from taking note.

Questions for Marketing Managers to Consider:

  • Is the wordplay between Bubly and Bublé becoming trite? How can the brand consistently refresh the campaign without overdoing it?
  • What other companies do you associate with positive celebrity endorsements? What common trends to do you see between their approach and Bubly’s?
  • What are the downsides to celebrity endorsements?
  • Ultimately, do you think celebrity endorsement is a good marketing strategy?

[i] Honkus, Mary. (Jan 21, 2020). “Missy Elliott Will Star in Pepsi’s New Super Bowl Commercial Alongside H.E.R.” People.com. Retrieved March 15, 2021 from https://people.com/food/super-bowl-2020-54-missy-elliott-pepsi-commercial-her/

[ii] Varnham, Eduard. (May 24, 2020). “Nespresso Pays George Clooney Over $40 Million — and He Invests It In a Satellite Over Sudan?” Showbiz CheatSheet. Retrieved March 15, 2021 from https://www.cheatsheet.com/entertainment/nespresso-pays-george-clooney-over-40-million-and-he-invests-it-in-a-satellite-over-sudan.html/

[iii] Cavill, Sarah. (Dec 5, 2018). “History of Celebrity Endorsements in Advertising: From Doris Day to Liza Koshy to George Clooney.” DMS Insights. Retrieved March 14, 2021 from https://insights.digitalmediasolutions.com/articles/history-celebrity-endorsements

[iv] PepsiCo. (Mar 12, 2021). “Bubly Sparkling Water – Raspberry.” PepsiCo. Retrieved March 14, 2021 from https://www.pepsicobeveragefacts.com/Home/Product?form=RTD&formula=F0000008654&size=12

[v] Arthur, Rachel. (Feb 25, 2020). “PepsiCo’s bubly hints at caffeinated water launch.” Beverage Daily.Retrieved March 15, 2021 from https://www.beveragedaily.com/Article/2020/02/25/PepsiCo-to-launch-bubly-caffeinated-water

[vi] Latham, Aaron. (n.d.) “Michael Bublé” Spotify. Retrieved March 14, 2021 from https://open.spotify.com/artist/1GxkXlMwML1oSg5eLPiAz3

[vii] White, Martin. (Feb 15, 2021). “PepsiCo launches Bubly Bounce caffeinated sparkling water.” Foodbev Media. Retrieved March 14, 2021 from https://www.foodbev.com/news/pepsico-launches-bubly-bounce-caffeinated-sparkling-water/?__cf_chl_jschl_tk__=991a68fc852ebb68ccd082622e8cb9562d2f3365-1615764509-0-AbTkL9SjZOITvbnFfwfSePZ9qq4JRr2p4PsH4_OySYGv5NvzYma6bzy6tOWn9qpT6OvMspbbkpPVDreSQzwk2ti6B2eoh3v0IQ8kIkaHp9IRBnYbQomR76l55tdMZHqm1gPtBf9WDqmzuPNKPCqkaMHCAd9yI4KfRo-1jVigdLxjq57MTBmAUg4F9EK6f1InUmIlqPxTk-p9vQuq183phkAJxTrmiYu3A4e4Ls2Q-V4DJw_JDYNHQFs78ZPpvIo_nrHwzCeusoxfSYQBraThRkhN9-He7-WAVxeSzKFaznrHTAARgCOK01m0TWCD0Juk928aAcKqS5YNckcmEckLd8Z_3xrS50MEj1p3wKTv4u6AYkmoEDwwH_W7Z_L3TQkw0QORLEAL7c3R8PvIAs9R5Tg

[viii] Crawford, Elizabeth. (Jan 13, 2021). “PepsiCo extends reach, usage of sparkling water brand bubly, SodaStream with new bubly drops.” Food Navigator USA.” Retrieved March 14, 2021 from https://www.foodnavigator-usa.com/Article/2021/01/13/PepsiCo-extends-reach-usage-of-sparkling-water-brand-bubly-SodaStream-with-new-bubly-drops#