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The PepsiCo Design Team, along with PepsiCo Global Beverage Packaging R&D, created the Pepsi/NFL Laces Can and Influencer Kit to celebrate sixteen years of partnership between Pepsi and the NFL for Super Bowl LIII. The influencer kit was launched the week leading up to the big game in Atlanta and includes a decorative, Pepsi-blue can enthroned in a specially-designed custom carton. Inspired by the form and feel of a football, the Pepsi/NFL Laces can is textured and formed to mimic the laces on an actual football in order to evoke excitement and enhance the recipient’s sensory experience of the package.
The Pepsi NFL Laces can is an embodiment of what can be achieved by combining graphics, structure, design and technology to create an innovative, differentiated, and emotive take on football that invites recipients to hold, share and celebrate the novelty of this can. This super premium design marks a memorable cultural moment in football and increases Pepsi brand love, elevates the shelf appeal of this limited edition influencer kit, and motivates collectors to proudly display their Pepsi/NFL Laces can. The intent of the creation of the Pepsi NFL Laces Influencer kit was to engage social media influencers to create buzz around Super Bowl LIII and the Pepsi/NFL partnership, and it was successful. In less than a week of launch, 200 kits generated over +97MM PR impressions using the hashtag #PEPSINFLLACESCAN.
The challenge in designing the Pepsi/NFL Laces can was to capture the great spirit of American football by capturing key visual elements and the tactile feel of its iconic ball in the form of a beverage can. To achieve this goal, the team employed can-shaping technology and direct-to-shape (DTS) printing, which resulted in a completely unique and premium, textured aluminum can that provides a multi-sensory consumer experience, specifically through visual aesthetics and somatosensation.
This super premium design delivers a satisfying sensorial experience that reminds the recipients of their love for Pepsi while commemorating a key cultural event. What sets the limited edition Pepsi/NFL Laces can and influencer kit apart are the advanced technological processses through which it was designed. In collaboration with our manufacturing partner, a proprietary can blow-molding technology was used to achieve the unique shaping on the aluminum can, specifically, the 8-laces that substantially mimic the group of the laces on a football. The shape of the can was created from a pre-formed straight cylinder by aluminum shaping, a process in which extreme air pressure is used to blow the form into a mold. Starting with a 0.5 liter can size, this technology only allows the cold aluminum to expand slightly, so it requires careful used of limited space to define the contour and details of a 3D form.
After the can was shaped, DTS printing, which uses small format UV LED inkjet technology, was used to add dimensionality and enhance the texture of the area surrounding the laces to accomplish a feel reminiscent of the pig skin on an actual football. The secondary outer packaging created for the influencer kit was designed with faceted structural elements to mirror traditional merchandise packaging for footballs, with the front open to present and highlight the unique shape of the can. A magnetic closure also ensures stability of the can presentation.
The Pepsi/NFL Laces can and influencer kit provided an exciting personal and emotional connection to the 2019 NFL championship game, an event was watched by about 98.2 million people, according to research firm Nielsen. This design allows the thrill of the game to expand past one night and to become a prized memento to be enjoyed for years to come.