Hoping to put the pop back in pop culture, PepsiCo's (NYSE:PEP) Pepsi Smash will kick off a new season on Time Warner's (NYSE:TWX) WB network tonight. If you don't remember the first season, join the club. The music show was a ratings dud, even relative to the sleepy summer season reruns it was stacked up against.

This time around the show promises bigger bands, a wider slate of performing venues, and an interactive element where viewers can vote on who should come back for an encore.

Pepsi paying up for branding rights isn't new. You can ride the Pepsi Max Big One roller coaster in England, and let's not revisit the Pepsi Billion Dollar Sweepstakes turkey. Food and beverage companies have a long history of bankrolling shows, beyond the typical advertising relationship, in the name of self-promotion.

You may already know that Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG) helped pioneer the soap opera genre. You may even know that it was Quaker Oats, now under Pepsi's wing, that helped finance the holiday classicWilly Wonka and the Chocolate Factory when it wanted to introduce a chocolate candy bar.

However, by lending its actual name to the live music show, Pepsi is playing a risky game. If The Apprentice had been a dud, sponsor DaimlerChrysler (NYSE:DCX) could have dusted itself off and kept motoring. If the inaugural season of Survivor had been a colossal flop, major ad buyer Reebok (NYSE:RBK) could have tied its laces and run away.

But now, if Pepsi Smash falters it can be cruel to the soda purveyor's brand. Delays may nip colossal live blunders, but what if the show itself bombs? What if the Pepsi name gets lumped into the heap of bad shows that have become synonymous with failure the way Ishtar has when it comes to celluloid? That's when the smash in Pepsi Smash becomes a verb. Yes, chasing Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) badly for the pop fizz crown entitles one to take some chances. Aiming for the youngest of soda drinkers can be a shot worth taking under most circumstances. However, sometimes the risk-reward ratio doesn't hold up no matter how good the soundtrack sounds.

Is PepsiCo making a mistake with Pepsi Smash? Do you miss Crystal Pepsi or Pepsi Blue? Will the company ever catch up to Coke in soda sales? All this and more -- in the PepsiCo discussion board. Only on Fool.com.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz grew up a Pepsi kid but his Coca-Cola wife changed his soda-swigging ways. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story.