Spotted! Subway and Pepsico’s hockey surprise

The soft drink chain's first major campaign for its new Pepsi Spire machines was timed with the World Juniors and Centennial Classic to capitalize on the country's hockey fever.

In its first effort to promote its Pepsi Spire customizeable drink dispensing machines, Pepsico Canada and Subway Restaurants Canada enlisted the help of San Jose Sharks defenceman (and Barrie, ON native) Brent Burns for a recent in-store stunt promotion.

As part of a one-day event in late December, one of the brand’s touch-screen machines in a Montreal Subway restaurant was transformed into a vehicle for a comedic routine that involved Burns (who was filmed on a green screen) crashing into the glass, talking hockey, bantering with customers about his favourite soft drinks and encouraging them to mix and match the flavours on the machine. Burns also surprised some of the guests with an in-store appearance.

While the Pepsi Spire drink machines first hit Canadian fast food stores in 2015, the roll-out took place over six months and was completed in mid-2016. This is the first major campaign to promote the Spire fountain.

“We had a goal to leverage the innovation and really tap the potential of this digital touch screen, but of course there was the consumer facing goal as well,” said Nancy Rooney, senior director of marketing and sales strategy with Pepsico Canada. “We want them to discover all the different ways to use this new product.”

A video of the stunt was created and posted on YouTube Dec. 29 and has since garnered nearly 900,000 views. The video is currently being promoted through paid targeted social media on Twitter and Facebook, with a media buy through OMD and PR through Veritas and Praxis.

Rooney said the timing of the ad was planned to capitalize on the nation’s current hockey fever with the recent World Juniors and Centennial Classic events.

“This helped bring a lot of national relevance to the program,” she said. She added that Pepsico Canada will be embarking on another hockey-related activation soon, but would not reveal any additional details.