Michael Jackson's image to appear on Pepsi cans

The limited edition King of Pop Pepsi can PepsiCo Inc.

(CBS News) Nearly three years after his death, Michael Jackson will soon be on TV screens and soda cans. He's teaming up again with an old advertising partner: Pepsi.

Pepsi to bring back Michael Jackson
Pictures: Michael Jackson's children
Pictures: Michael Jackson

Even from the grave, Jackson still has major appeal. That is what Pepsi is counting on, after signing a deal with the late singer's estate, which could make Michael the King of "Pop" in more ways than one.

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Thursday, the soda giant announced a global deal with the Michael Jackson estate. Terms weren't disclosed, but there will be a special edition can featuring Jackson's image, contests, and chances to download remixes of Jackson's most famous songs.

Bob Garfield, a columnist who covers advertising and marketing for MediaPost, called the move "simply outrageous." "The first gigantic blunder, especially for a campaign called 'Live for Now,' is to sign a deal with a dead celebrity," Garfield said.

Jackson died from an accidental drug overdose in 2009. Joe Levy, editor of Billboard magazine, says Pepsi is partly responsible. An accident on a Pepsi commercial set in 1984 left Jackson badly burned.

Levy said, "(The) burns caused substantial pain, he had what was at least his third plastic surgery, and began a course of pain killers just to deal with what was a horrific accident. Those things never stopped for him."

A spokesperson for the Jackson Estate, released a statement saying, "Michael would have loved that we are making the record books with his image on a billion cans around the world."

But star power hasn't helped the company recently. Pepsi has been knocked to number three, behind Coke and Diet Coke. Garfield said, "Pepsi is pretty much already a full employment advertiser for celebrities. They probably could've pulled this campaign without disinterring Michael Jackson."

But Jackson won't be the only deceased celebrity to endorse a product. In 1997, Fred Astaire danced with a Dirt Devil after being dead for 10 years. And in 2005, Volkswagen brought Gene Kelly back to life in his famous scene from "Singin' in the Rain." Now, Jackson maybe the latest cast in controversial advertising comebacks.

"I fully suspect that this will all be a bad memory within about 30 days," Garfield said. "I think people are gonna freak."

The King of Pop's debut Pepsi can is expected to debut in the next few weeks. PepsiCo Inc. told CBS News that this is a promotional partnership, not an ad campaign. No U.S. commercials will feature Michael Jackson.

  • Terrell Brown

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