Brands regularly partner with artists to create custom art on their behalf. The partnerships are doubly beneficial: brands get to add a little bit of street cred to a given campaign, while artists benefit from corporate budgets to create work that often comes with reasonably free reign. The unfortunate bit of these collaborations, however, is that after the campaign is over, the artful assets generated in the process tend to fade away.
Pepsi has found a way to give extended life to the output from its artist collaborations for the Art of Football campaign. For that effort, Pepsi paired six artists with six world-class footballers. Famed photographer Danny Clinch photographed the athletes and the artists added a colorful layer to the portraits. The work was used in billboards and as the basis of an interactive commercial. In most instances, that would be the end of the road for the art, but Pepsi has now released a capsule collection of clothing, sporting goods, and accessories in partnership with six established and emerging brands that incorporates the Art of Football graphics.
The collection is being released May 20 at Bloomingdale’s and will appear at Paris boutique Colette and London retailer Liberty, as well as online. Pepsi partnered with Original Penguin, Bang & Olufsen’s B&O Play, Gents, Goodlife, Del Toro, and Shut to develop a collection of art-based fashions that includes everything from shirts and hoodies to hats and headphones, skateboards, and swim shorts. And the collection looks great–a far cry from heavily branded swag sitting at the bottom of many drawers.
Pepsi Chief Marketing Officer Kristin Patrick says the idea for the capsule collection was not premeditated but instead a response to the excitement of seeing the artist collaborations on billboards. “We ended up with these amazing works of art and we were so inspired by them we decided to take the designs and develop a line of apparel,” Patrick says. “We had been thinking about extending the brand into different cultural categories, so we started to think about whether we could play in fashion. When we talked to consumers about that ways that we could extend our brand, the first thing they said they’d love to receive from our brand is either entertainment content or apparel. Which was surprising because we thought the first thing they’d go with would be beverages. But the brand has such an equity in culture I think that’s why we have the consumers’ permission to go into these other business adjacencies.”
The billboards came out in December, so Pepsi quickly got the designers and retailers on board so they could pull off an entire 60-SKU collection at warp speed–the timeline is fast by fashion development standards. When it came to extrapolating elements of the art into the apparel pieces, the designers were given completely free reign to choose elements from whatever pieces of art they liked and apply them how they deemed most rad for the items they were designing.
“When we sat down with the designers we really started from a place of whatever we do, we want to create beautifully designed, high-quality products for the consumers. We really didn’t have any parameters,” says Patrick.
Despite the fact there was no overall direction in the product development, the collection hangs together well as a cohesive whole, largely a function of the thematically similar design elements, which are all red, white, and blue (basically the only immediate nod to the Pepsi connection).
“It was a cultural collision, a meshing of what was best for the artwork and what was best for the product categories,” Patrick says. “It’s amazing how from that out-of-home (campaign) we were able to develop this whole range of product category. Little things I didn’t catch when looking at the billboards, these creative people came in and created a whole new world from it.”