Pepsi brings back Michael Jackson in new ad campaign

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NEW YORK (AP) — PepsiCo Inc. is going on a reunion tour with The King of Pop.

The company on Thursday is announcing a deal with the estate of Michael Jackson to use the late pop star’s image for its new global marketing push. The promotion will vary by country but will include a TV ad, special edition cans bearing Jackson’s image and chances to download remixes of some of Jackson’s most famous songs.

Pepsi, which first partnered with Jackson in 1983, did not disclose the terms of its deal.

The promotion is part of a global marketing blitz planned for the year ahead by Pepsi, which is looking to revive its brand and win back market share from The Coca-Cola Co.

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Pepsi has a lot riding on its new push. Although the company has a diverse portfolio of brands including Frito-Lay, Quaker Oats and Tropicana, it’s often judged by the performance of its namesake cola. And in 2010, Pepsi was knocked out of the No. 2 spot among sodas in the U.S. by Diet Coke, with Coke remaining in the No. 1 position, according to the industry tracker Beverage Digest.

Last month, Pepsi also reported that volume in its key Americas beverages unit slipped by 1 percent in the first three months of the year.

Consumers in the U.S. and China will be the first to get a taste of the Jackson campaign in coming weeks, which is timed to coincide with the 25th anniversary of “Bad,” the singer’s multiplatinum album. The campaign will spread to about two dozen countries later this year.

Although Pepsi is banking on the nostalgia Jackson can evoke, the partnership also resurrects painful memories.

In 1984, Jackson’s hair famously caught fire while filming a commercial for Pepsi in Los Angeles. A spark from a pyrotechnics display landed on the singer’s head. Jackson suffered severe burns, and many trace his addiction to painkillers to the incident. Pepsi gave Jackson $1.5 million as a result.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.