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Pepsi returning to the Super Bowl

NEW YORK — Pepsi is back in the game. The soft drink brand will advertise in next year’s Super Bowl after sitting out last year for the first time in more than two decades.

Pepsi said today it will air three ads created by fans for its Pepsi MAX brand. The company has been marketing its no-calorie version of namesake Pepsi to counteract Coca-Cola’s fast-growing Coke Zero.

Last year, the Purchase, N.Y.-based company sidelined its top brand from the world’s biggest advertising spectacle for the first time since 1987. Pepsi had been a perennial advertiser but opted out of the game to shift spending to its “Pepsi Refresh Project,” which pays for community projects.

Pepsi also plans once again advertise snack brand Doritos, and for a fifth year will air ads created by fans.

The company will air six 30-second ads total, three for each brand.

It declined to say how much it will spend on the ads. Commercials typically come in 30-second blocks — which sold this past year for between $2.5 million and more than $3 million.

Fans will make all six commercials and select two ads to air for each brand, while company executives will select the remaining ad for both Pepsi MAX and Doritos.

Submissions will be accepted from Sept. 27 through Nov. 15, and 10 finalists will be announced in January.

Pepsi is putting its dollars now behind Pepsi MAX, which has been around longer than Coke Zero but is a fraction of its size. Pepsi said it is selling 44 percent more Pepsi MAX since July, when it premiered a revamped version of a 1995 Super Bowl commercial. Pepsi’s “Diner” Super Bowl commercial features delivery drivers from Pepsi MAX and Coke Zero forming a short-lived friendship in a diner over music.

The drivers sample each other’s drinks and the Coca-Cola driver prefers Pepsi MAX.

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