Interview: John Legend Fuses Creativity, Inspiration And Art For Pepsi’s LIFEWTR Super Bowl Ad
With the Super Bowl LI around the corner, John Legend is pretty thrilled. As the singer watches the Atlanta Falcons take on the New England Patriots front and center, the world will get to hear his tender words of compassion and love during Pepsi’s Super Bowl ad for their latest product, LIFEWTR.
The premium water brand carries distinct features that tempted the singer to record a special version of “Love Me Now” for the 30-second ad. The bottled water’s marketing strategy pushes the lines of creativity (and color) through the works of artists like Jason Woodside, Craig & Karl, and MOMO.
By making it all about the arts, Legend is proud that his first Super Bowl feature carries the same traits he holds near and dear to his heart. “It’s all about creativity, it’s all about inspiration, and it’s all about art,” he tells VIBE over the phone. “I thought that the combination of that and imagery looked really beautiful together.”
Directed by Robert Stromberg (Pan’s Labyrinth, Pirates Of The Caribbean) both 30-second and 60-second spots were released to the web this week, showing immersive installations that bring bright and bold color designs to life. It will more than likely be the warmest and artistic ad out of what’s to come this weekend. Portrayed as a rainy day, drops transform into colorful hues that help turn a dreary day into a moving canvas.
For Legend, originality will drive the creative bandwagon for 2017. “I think creativity is about being truthful, honest and authentic,” he explains. “It’s about being inspired and trying to see beauty and create beauty.” All of it will be an important part of how we act and respond to what’s happening in the world. There’s going to be good [things] that happen to us personally and for humanity, but there will be challenges. Sometimes the best art comes from those challenges.”
One of today’s most socially aware artists, Legend has been anything but coy about the orange clouds covering the U.S. He’s spoken out against friends (Kanye West) who have befriended President Donald Trump and has supported grassroots movements that showcase the country’s deep divide. As more celebrities and politicians place their allegiance or disgust for the plights of the world, Legend is hopeful for healthy and enlightening dialogue between those with different views. “My only question for people who don’t really agree with me is, ‘What is the effect of your opinion on people’s lives?'” he says. “If you’re a conservative and you say you want to take away healthcare, you can believe that, but it’s going to affect people’s lives. That doesn’t mean that person is terrible or that you can’t be friends. Let’s talk about it, let’s talk about the effects these policies are going to have on the people. As long as we remember that, I think there will be a more productive conversation.”
The righteous singer says the sign of the times has played a role in his current inspirations, but for the most part, it’s all about his wife Chrissy Teigen and adorable baby Luna. “My daughter, my wife… I look at life differently because I have a family and it affects the way I do things,” he says.
“I also pay attention to what’s happening politically in the culture and society, and I respond to that as well.” Released in November, Legend allowed his love ballad “Love Me Now” to not only share his love journey, but those from North Dakota’s Standing Rock Reservation, Orlando’s Pulse Nightclub, the Domiz Refugee Camp in Northern Iraq and Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic. The track, from his fifth LP Darkness and Light, is just one of his contributions to the importance of love and soul during trying times. “I think it’s part in response to everything that’s happened,” Legend says about the current resurgence of R&B. “I think people are trying to get back to soul. That’s what I was trying to do with my album.” In addition to sprinkling his black man magic at the Super Bowl, he’ll do the same at this year’s 58th annual Grammy Awards. While he couldn’t share many details behind his performance, he did slide a few hints our way. “It’s going to be something special, but it won’t be from my album. I’ll tell you that much.”
Find out more information behind LIFEWTR here and the full 60-second ad featuring Legend’s tantalizing vocals below.