Jussie Smollett (L) and Lee Daniels (R) on set of their Pepsi commercial in New York City.
From its record-breaking television ratings to its star-studded celebrity cameos, it’s evident that America has found its newest guilty pleasure in FOX’s popular series, Empire.
Like a nosey neighbor in a real-life soap opera, viewers are satiated with weekly doses of drama and scandal, mixed with meme-worthy scenes that are bound to make their way into tomorrow’s break room conversation. Although the show’s plot inspires tweets and GIFs that consistently ascend #Empire to the peak of trending topics, the Lee Daniels-co-created show undeniably fuses hip-hop and pop culture in a way that makes it hard for any of its infections songs to not stick in your head.
This same addiction has carried the first season’s debut soundtrack to the No. 1 spot on the Billboard “R&B/Hip-Hop” album chart, taken the Lyon brothers to award show stages and garnered the attention of the food & beverage conglomerate, PepsiCo.
“We’re excited to be working with Empire – the hottest show on television today,” said Adam Harter, Vice President of PepsiCo Consumer Engagement.
“At Pepsi, we’re always looking to create new experiences that will impact pop culture. Our partnership with Empire will allow us to reach and invite fans to have fun with us and their favorite TV show this season.”
This season, Pepsi serves as not only the official beverage sponsor, but also as the latest partner to seamlessly integrate its brand in a musical way. On Wednesday (Dec. 2), the official commercial for Jamal Lyon’s chosen track will not only appear during an episode of Empire, but also in real life in conjunction with Pepsi’s #NextPepsiArtist campaign.
I’m so excited & honored to join the legacy that is @Pepsi as the #NextPepsiArtist. #NewGeneration #Pepsi #Empire 🙏🏿 pic.twitter.com/ymfOTXR7m8
— Jussie Smollett (@JussieSmollett) November 19, 2015
Following in the footsteps of icons like Michael Jackson and Beyonce, Jussie Smollett is next up to star in the “Next Pepsi Artist” musical visual directed by the one and only Lee Daniels:
“Pepsi let me do my thing,” shared Daniels. “It’s not an experience that’s been experienced by the regular Pepsi commercial viewer before.”
Despite experiencing one of the most pinch-worthy moments of his life and career, Smollett is aware that although he’s now among some of the most influential artists in pop culture, it takes more to truly arrive in this game called entertainment:
“There are three things that happen where you know you’re on your way,” points out the actor. “Having a No.?1 album, winning a Grammy and doing a Pepsi commercial.”
What will bring the core of this campaign to life is the beat-thumping EDM-influenced record, “Ready to Go,” produced by hip-hop producer/music veteran Swizz Beatz. The South Bronx-native, who has contributed to the success of over 300 albums sold worldwide, admits the collaboration couldn’t have happened without Lee Daniels reaching out. But he also credits sharing a positive vibe in the studio with Smollett:
“‘Ready to Go’ is Jussie’s graduation,” adds Swizz Beatz. “Just when you thought it couldn’t get any bigger for him, he’s ready to go to the next level. There’s always another level to go to.”
During Wednesday night’s episode, Pepsi subtly integrated a rep, who presented the campaign opportunity to the Empire team, noting that “Music is a part of Pepsi’s DNA. It has a long history of getting behind emerging artists and partnering with iconic stars.” And this is just what the global brand has continued to do effortlessly over the years.
“I salute Pepsi for investing into this situation, because we need more of this. I think he’s a great choice. His energy fits the brand. It’s not over-aggressive, but it’s right there in the middle.”
There are two more episodes until the Dec. 2 premiere of the lively Empire commercial. Could Jamal Lyon go on to be “music’s new icon”? Possibly so and the show’s home network, FOX, just might be on to something. We’ll all just have to wait until Pepsi finally adds more icing to this addictive television series cake.