Who wants to be a billionaire?



Pepsi: hoping to boost sales with $1bn prize

The war has brought home the old truism that in America they like to do things big. So it may come as no surprise that Pepsi Cola is about to launch a show promising a £1bn giveaway, the largest prize in the history of TV.
PepsiCo is hoping the new show will provide a huge marketing boost for its flagship soft drink and has signed a deal with WB, the popular youth channel which launched Buffy the Vampire Slayer, to show the programme.

The bold plan is part of an increasing trend of advertisers trying to get their products into actual programmes, rather than sticking to the commercial breaks.

Pepsi rival Coca-Cola recently enjoyed a huge boost to its profile with a sponsorship deal with the hit reality TV show American Idol.

"You're going to see a lot more of this. It's so much more difficult for a 30-second ad to stand out these days.... When you control the content, you develop the exact message you want," Dave Burwick, chief marketing officer for Pepsi-Cola, North America, told USA Today.

Pepsi has hired Michael Davies, the ABC executive who took Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? to the US, to produce its show.

Millionaire was a huge hit in America when it launched, but interest waned because of over-exposure.

Millions of contestants are expected to enter the "Pepsi play for a billion" promotion, which launches next month with a $20m TV advertising campaign.

To do so, they will have to write or email the company with company using special codes that will begin appearing under Pepsi caps from next month.

But unlike Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, no general knowledge is required, and PepsiCo is making it pretty unlikely anyone will actually win the top prize.

Pepsi will pick 1,000 people to compete on the show before weeding them down to 10 finalists who will compete for a chance to win a $1m cash prize.

The winner of the $1m will then have a chance of winning a $1bn bonus prize in a lottery, with the numbers picked by a monkey.

The company has even taken out insurance to cover it should anyone actually win the cash.

PepsiCo also revealed this week it had signed R&B star Ms Dynamite to appear in its advertising in the UK.