'Imagine Dragons are the perfect fit': Pepsi's Ellen Healy on the Champions League Final Opening Ceremony

'Imagine Dragons are the perfect fit': Pepsi's Ellen Healy on the Champions League Final Opening Ceremony

Pepsi has told Music Week about its ambitions to solidify the Champions League Final Opening Ceremony as a must-play event for the world's top artists. 

Imagine Dragons will take to the stage minutes before kick-off between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur at the Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid tomorrow evening (June 1) for a six-minute medley of four songs.

The Las Vegas rockers follow in the footsteps of Alicia Keys (2016), Black Eyed Peas (2017) and Dua Lipa (2018) in performing at the showpiece occasion. PepsiCo's senior director of global entertainment and music Ellen Healy said the artist selection process was carried out in collaboration with European football's governing body UEFA.

We want to get to the point where every artist wants to line up to be the UEFA Opening Ceremony artist

Ellen Healy

PepsiCo

"We go out early and talk to the labels and management about who's interested and what they have coming over the course the next 12 months," she explained. "Selecting the artist is a difficult process, but we're getting better at it every year and more artists now want to do it. 

"People line up to be the Super Bowl artist and we want to get UEFA to [the point] where every artist wants to line up to be the UEFA Opening Ceremony artist. We're building towards that."

The event was handed an unexpected boost when footage of Liverpool supporters singing along to Dua Lipa at last year's final went viral. 

"Dua's performance really took it to another level," said Healy. "It had a great impact. We pick the artist almost nine months in advance and she had quite an interesting and engaged fanbase because her growth trajectory was so quick.

"I was actually a little bit nervous about how a female artist with all of those amazing dancers was [going to be received] in a football stadium where all these fans are chanting. But they were so engaged with the performance and it was really great. It was more than we could've hoped for and was a bit of a turning point.

"I think this year you're going to see this little growth trajectory again and excitement for what's next. The audience is expanding and Imagine Dragons are the perfect fit for the football fans as well as multiple demographics."

Healy added that there were also opportunities to introduce live music at other sporting showpiece events. 

"In the US, it's across every sport now and it's part of the game," she said. "It's been a little slower in Europe to start but coming off of Saturday night we're hoping that the enthusiasm is really cascading. 

"We've been working on global football programmes since 1998 and music is in our DNA so it's such a natural [fit] for us to be partnering and bringing music to sporting events. You'll start seeing more music and sports collaborations for the big matches and big sporting events."

Pepsi has also been hosting fans at the UEFA Champions Festival in Madrid. The festival is open to the public and will showcase a number of musical acts across four days, with headline performances by Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike and Simon Fuller's Now United, the pop group behind this year’s new Pepsi jingle, this weekend.

Earlier this week, Jonas Blue played the opening ceremony of the 2019 UEFA Europa League Final at the Olympic Stadium in Baku, Azerbaijan, ahead of Chelsea's 4-1 triumph over Arsenal.

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