Todd Kaplan discusses why Pepsi’s Grills Night Out epitomizes summer fun, interview

Pepsi's Grills Night Out campaign
Pepsi's Grills Night Out campaign / Pepsi

With the tempting aroma wafting through the air, everyone gets hungry for that masterfully grilled food. Since a perfectly paired beverage makes every bite better, this summer celebrates Pepsi’s Grills Night Out. Ready to get grilling?

Over the past several years, Pepsi has showed how food is “Better with Pepsi.” In its various forms, the campaign resonates not just because the flavors work in harmony, but also because the approach is relatable. From grabbing a slice of pizza infused with that caramel forward sweetness to shaking up a classic cocktail, the reality is that reframing the conversation has taken hold.

Recently, Pepsi kicked off its summer campaign in two parts. First, the partnership with Bobby Flay puts the celebrated chef back in a spot where people know him well, in front of a grill.

Second, the launch of two new fruit forward Pepsi flavors, Pepsi Lime and Pepsi Peach, showcased innovation from the beverage brand. Leaning into the summer grilling season, these two beverages pair well with a variety of offerings that have been kissed by the flame.

As part of the summer campaign, Pepsi is showcasing how it is better with food from the grill with its concept Pepsi’s Grills Night Out. A playful take on the classic “girls night out,” the classic tunes combined with engaging imagery show that a grilling event is more than just a food feast. It is a community moment from start to finish.

Recently, FoodSided spoke with Todd Kaplan – Chief Marketing Officer at Pepsi regarding the summertime campaign. Similar to the core concepts of the Better with Pepsi campaign, Kaplan mentioned that “it is about driving deeper this association of Pepsi and food. Grilling is one of those food categories where every kind of grilled food is really better with Pepsi.”

While the science behind the food and beverage pairing concept is clear, the idea is to go beyond how Pepsi’s sweetness and the citrus can cut through the unctuous and charred flavors associated with grilling. It needs to get to the heart of the scenario, people asking for or always serving a Pepsi with that grilled meal.

Kaplan explained it is more than just getting people to fully appreciate that Pepsi is “the official beverage of grilling and Grills Night Out.” It is about being part of food culture. That association with Bobby Flay, as well as highlighting how Pepsi is enjoyed throughout the summer, turns the visual into the actual consumption.

Given that grilling crossed every culture, Kaplan believes that the food combined with the gathering makes the moment memorable. He commented that “the open flame and the energy around the grilling moment,” creates that excitement to enjoy a Pepsi and appreciate the refreshment.

Bobby Flay Pepsi's Grills Night Out
Bobby Flay for Pepsi's Grills Night Out / Pepsi

How does the Bobby Flay partnership play into Pepsi’s Grills Night Out?

Although few people might have thought about Bobby Flay dancing in front of the grill, that moment of levity captures the spontaneity of the Pepsi's Grills Night Out concept. Gathering with friends in front of a grill, enjoying the whole ambiance, and having a meal is more than just sitting around a table. It is about the experience.

Given that Bobby Flay crosses generations, he can be the grill master as well as the master of ceremonies, in a way. Kaplan believes that Flay’s role in both food culture and grill food culture makes him the perfect partner for this campaign. From the person who remembers those first episodes of Boy Meets Grill to the Flay’s current social media channels, it is another reminder that grilling crosses generations and cultures.

Even the play on words for this campaign makes the concept inclusive. Kaplan said that Pepsi is “inclusive with everything we do.” He believes that there is a lot of joy in grilling. While households might have different approaches, everyone can related to the excitement and fun of summer grilling season.

As the Grills Night Out campaign rolls out through the commercials, Instacart Memorial Day promotion, and other activations throughout the summer, the concept is more than just a catchy song and happy people gathering around the grill. It is a reminder that food and beverages can bring people together. Instead of focusing on differences or competing in brand wars, it might be time to celebrate the moments where joyfulness burns brightly. More importantly, those happy memories do not extinguish with the grill lid is closed for the night.

From the first beat of the song till the peaceful quiet as the stars twinkle brightly, Grills Night Out for the summer is here. Just make sure that an iced cold Pepsi is in reach to sip all season long.