Pepsi Finally Prevails in the 2016 Copyright Lawsuit Over Superbowl 50 Ad “The Joy of Dance”
Steven T. Lowe
On May 21st, 2021, a panel of judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that PepsiCo (“Pepsi”) did not steal an advertising firm’s idea for a Super Bowl ad that aired in 2016.
During Superbowl 50, Pepsi aired an ad entitled “The Joy of Dance,” which featured singer Janelle Monae dancing to a trio of pop hits in period-appropriate costumes. After the ad aired during Superbowl 50, a Connecticut-based ad agency known as Betty Inc. (“Betty”) filed a lawsuit against the beverage giant alleging that the Pepsi commercial originated from the agency’s idea for a decades-spanning tour of American culture set to Pepsi’s theme song. Unfortunately for Betty, the Second Circuit panel of judges held that agency Betty’s pitch for an ad exploring popular music and fashion shifts across decades was too broad and generic to warrant copyright protection. As a result, the May 21st decision ended the long-running dispute over the Super Bowl 50 ad.
Betty is represented by Mark Scott Gregory of Martin LLP.
Pepsi is represented by Elizabeth Lafferty, Natalie Sue Richer and Scott Richard Samay of Lerner David Littenberg Krumholz & Mentlik LLP, and Michael S. Elkin of Winston & Strawn LLP.
The case is Betty Inc. v. PepsiCo Inc., case number 20-891, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
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