The spot is likely to also run on Fox, WSJ notes. The product integration started Wednesday night when Jamal is offered an endorsement deal with Pepsi.
“Jamal has a real shot of becoming the new face of Pepsi,” a fictional marketing executive says, adding that the beverage giant has a history of “getting behind emerging artists and partnering with iconic stars.”
“Empire” averages 13.5 million viewers on Wednesday night and another 9.2 million catch up later via DVR, VOD and online platforms including Hulu, according to Nielsen. It’s the viewers who don’t watch live TV anymore that Pepsi wants to reach.
“I think it is incumbent upon advertisers and networks to be open to find new ways for brands to see the value to being part of a network show,” said Gary Newman, co-chief executive of the Fox TV Group.
The terms of the deal haven’t been disclosed, but people familiar with the arrangement said the partnership is worth around $20 million.
“It was almost a no-brainer for us,” said Seth Kaufman, chief marketing officer of PepsiCo Inc. ’s North American beverages unit, adding that the chance to be “part and parcel” of a hot show doesn’t come along every day.
“Empire” co-creator Lee Daniels is directing the real-life commercial and plays himself. In the Dec. 2 episode, Jamal will introduce the spot at an industry event. The show will then go to commercial break and the Pepsi ad will run for real.
“Pepsi let me do my thing,” Mr. Daniels said, adding, “It’s not an experience that’s been experienced by the regular Pepsi commercial viewer before.”
Watch Mr. Smollett prep for his new gig below.