Brand Mashup Mania

Published :  June 24, 2024

I magine it playing out something like this: Brand A nervously calls Brand B and asks if they’d like to get together sometime. Brand B gleefully says, “yes,” and they go on to have a harmonious and meaningful relationships.

Okay, so maybe that’s a bit overromanticized. But the truth is, brand collaborations have emerged as a powerful modern marketing tool—especially in the ready-to-drink beverage category. Collaborating with another brand can enhance reach and awareness, target a new or specific consumer segment and drive social media engagement. And we’re not even talking about a long-term commitment, either. Most collaborations feature limited-edition offerings designed to create a big buzz over a short period of time.

Another compelling reason for the joining of two marketing forces? Brand collaborations hold strong appeal to Gen Z, a highly coveted demographic for beverage sales. Gen Z’ers love it when a brand stands out from the pack in an authentic, innovative or humorous way. When done right, cross-collaboration is the perfect way to breathe new life into how Gen Z perceives your brand.

As you might have already experienced in the wild, PepsiCo and our partner brands frequently engage in collaborations. We regularly partner with celebrities, athletes, gaming platforms and even airlines in creative campaigns. But we also like to take it a step further with limited-edition product mashups as well. Here are just a few we’ve successfully brought to market over the past several years.

Pepsi x Peeps:

In 2021, Pepsi® teamed with Peeps® to create a marshmallow-flavored cola just in time for the joyous and relaxing spring season. The combination of refreshing cola flavor and pillowy-soft sweetness was a huge hit among consumers.1

Pepsi x Cracker Jack:

Also in 2021, PepsiCo partnered with Cracker Jack® for a one-of-a-kind collaboration celebrating October baseball. This limited-edition beverage combined the refreshing taste of Pepsi cola with the nostalgic blend of caramel, popcorn and peanut flavors.2 Home run!

Pepsi x IHOP:

In 2022, PepsiCo partnered with IHOP to release a limited-edition, breakfast-inspired flavor: Pepsi Maple Syrup Cola. Originally offered exclusively through a social media giveaway, the product was then made available in participating IHOP restaurants nationwide.3

Pepsi x Shaq ‘SNEAK’ER’:

In February of this year, PepsiCo partnered with Shaq and Reebok to create a pair of Reebok PUMP Shaq Attaqs that fit a full Pepsi Mini can inside the sole.4 Outlandish? Yes. But also extremely effective in demonstrating Pepsi’s playful brand personality and ability to think outside the box.

As is clearly evidenced by these case studies, brand collaboration is an “anything goes” proposition. In fact, the more sensationally strange, the better. Unconventional partnerships are fun, flexible and have the best chance of nabbing press mentions and notoriety.2 Sure, it can be risky for a brand to step outside of its established identity. But as long as it’s done in good faith, consumers will generally respond with both their praise and their pocketbooks.

Here's more good news: the fun isn’t just limited to major national companies. Operators can forge business-building brand collaborations as well. For instance, local/regional chains should consider collaborating with regional brands or influencers on a social media campaign. If you do decide to go this route, don’t be afraid to make it wacky, off-the-wall and buzzworthy. Happy collaborating!


1PR Newswire, PEPSI® x PEEPS® Get Back Together to Unveil the Iconic Limited-Edition Marshmallow Cola on Store Shelves, Just in Time for Spring, February 2023

2PR Newswire, PEPSI® Unveils New Limited-Edition Pepsi x Cracker Jack Flavored Cola in Celebration of October Baseball, October 2021

3Nation’s Restaurant News, IHOP is bringing its Pepsi Maple Syrup Cola to restaurants, April 2024

4Forbes, How Unexpected Brand Partnerships Are Redefining Success, November 2023