PepsiCo to air no drink ads during 2010 Super Bowl

After 23 years of producing and airing the kinds of soft drink commercials that people talk about for months (or years), PepsiCo will keep its beverage brands out of this year’s Super Bowl.

The company reported that it will instead promote its core brands through The Pepsi Refresh Project, a program that will divvy out at least $20 million for community renewal initiatives. The program will begin in mid-January, when the company opens a web site where consumers can submit grant proposals and later vote on which proposals should receive funding.

The decision, which the company said was not due to costs, will not take PepsiCo out of the big game entirely. It still plans to buy time for Frito-Lay snack brand Doritos, The Wall Street Journal reported, and PepsiCo spokeswoman Nicole Bradley said Gatorade will still appear on the sidelines. The isotonic, however, will not have the benefit of a splashy, $100,000-per-second television commercial to underline its new, athlete-targeted approach.

PepsiCo America’s Beverages CEO Massimo d’Amore recently announced that the company will revamp Gatorade in 2010, with a formulation that does away with high-fructose corn syrup and line extensions aimed at pre- and post- exercise consumption. The brand benefitted from a 60-second Super Bowl spot in 2009 that introduced the letter “G” as its new emblem, and enjoyed a pair of commercials in 2008, one of which introduced G2.

While PepsiCo will not promote its drinks during Super Bowl commercial time, The Coca-Cola Co., Inc. will, The Journal reported. This year’s Coke ad, the Journal said, will feature animated TV family, The Simpsons.