By Kendra Barnett, Associate Editor

April 29, 2024 | 5 min read

The cola brand is teasing its partnership with the Uefa Champions League ahead of the June 1 final at Wembley Stadium in London.

A cinematic global ad campaign from Pepsi, launched on Monday, sees football stars from across the globe convene for a good old-fashioned game of street footy.

Developed in partnership with Copa90, a football-focused media firm headquartered in London, the two-minute film is fronted by Manchester City star Jack Grealish, Real Madrid forward Vini Jr, Tottenham Hotspur captain Son Heung-min and England women’s national team captain Leah Williamson.

In the high-energy spot, the athletes challenge a group of locals to a classic game of ‘don’t let the ball touch the ground.’ The stakes? Whoever drops the ball buys a Pepsi for the others. The group juggles the ball dramatically as crowds of bystanders assemble to cheer them on against the backdrop of the iconic Wembley Stadium in London, where the 2024 Uefa Champions League final will be played on June 1.

Just as it looks like Vini Jr is set to win the game, in swoops Vinnie Jones, legendary former British footballer, actor and presenter, who boots the ball to the sky. “Oy, there’s only one Vinnie J,” he quips. Vini Jr shrugs off the jab, laughing, and the crowds rejoice with cold cans of Pepsi. In the end, it’s Vini Jr left with the tab.

Sports journalist and former footballer Karen Carney also makes a surprise cameo.

“Being thirsty for more – Pepsi’s philosophy – means feeling that wherever there is a ball, there is an opportunity to find new and unexpected ways to find enjoyment through the game,” said Eric Melis, vice-president of global brand marketing for carbonated soft drinks at PepsiCo.

The spot, which formally announces Jack Grealish as the newest Pepsi ambassador, is the first in a series of films that will roll out as part of Pepsi’s broader ‘Where There’s a Ball, There’s a Way’ campaign.

Its debut today coincides with Pepsi’s partnership with the Uefa Champions League leading up to the final. With the campaign, the brand aims to engage with the world’s flourishing football community and tear down barriers to entry by reminding people that, per a statement from the brand, “all you need is a football [and] the right attitude and you’ve got yourself a game.”

As Melis put it: “Whether you’re playing on the biggest stages in the world or on city streets, there’s an opportunity to unlock the enjoyment that [football] brings.”

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Pepsi is planning a number of additional football-focused marketing initiatives this year as part of the ‘Where There’s a Ball There’s a Way’ campaign, including films that focus on each of the four individual ambassadors that appear in this first installation. The brand has also teased forthcoming fashion collaborations, entertainment content and social activations.

Pepsi said that the campaign “will see the brand unlock unexpected ways to play, both on and off the pitch, in the years to come.”

The new ‘don’t let the ball touch the ground’ film debuts today and will be aired on TV and digital channels worldwide.

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