DURING THE SPRING of 2012, only four months removed from the birth of her first child, Beyoncé and her team embarked on something of an unofficial publicity campaign. In an interview with PEOPLE in which she was named the World’s Most Beautiful Woman, she said she’d lost 50 pounds, doing 90-minute workouts, eating a strict, protein-based diet -- and breastfeeding.

“I feel my body bouncing back,” she told the magazine. “Whatever was tight and muscular, like my legs, I’m seeing it come back. You just have to work at it,” she said.

Indeed, one of the first post-baby pictures showed a voluptuous Beyoncé -- or at least her body -- was absolutely back. While it is nearly impossible to parse the nature and timing of high-level negotiations -- neither Parkwood Entertainment nor the NFL would comment -- a narrative has emerged. Close to when Beyoncé was taking that picture in stunning, curve-hugging red dress that nearly broke the Internet, it is believed that both Pepsi and the NFL, which are partners, had either begun or were close to engaging in separate talks to do major league-level business with her, business that could forever the landscape for how pop stars and major global brands interact.

Beyoncé is a gleaming, every-move-monetized symbol of the Super Bowl’s corporate structure. A daughter of Houston, the city many New Orleanians relocated to after Hurricane Katrina, her brand identifies with the host city of this Super Bowl in subtle and not-so-subtle ways; even the symbol of her ready-to-wear fashion line is the fleur-de-lis turned upside down (the Saints logo). For its part, Pepsi was interested in a multi-year global campaign effectively making her
the global face of the brand. Beyoncé was on a shortlist of talent the NFL sought her for its Super Bowl halftime show.

On Sunday, her performance is likely to be the most watched Super Bowl halftime show of all time. Sunday’s is a platform chock-full of possibilities but, perhaps more important to her brand, the ultimate complement to her multi-year deal with Pepsi.

“The magic in this is that both [the endorsement deal and the halftime show] work simultaneously. As the NFL was pursuing potential performers for halftime, we were pursuing her for a global artist deal, and the stars aligned early. We both were having [separate] conversations,” says Adam Harter, VP Consumer Engagement, Pepsi Beverages North America. He speculated that Beyoncé’s deal with the NFL was probably signed earlier than that, but couldn’t comment.

By late summer, “the synergy certainly seemed to be coming into play. That’s
when we realized the powerful potential the Super Bowl halftime show had for us an organization,” Harter says.

There was near universal approval attached to the idea of partnering with former Destiny’s Child star. “I think when Beyoncé was mentioned, all of us on the call including [CBS President Leslie Moonves], when we got the call about Beyoncé all enthusiastically said, ‘Yes, it would be great if you could get her’,” CBS Sports President Sean McManus told reporters at a press conference in January.

“Sports and music are part of Pepsi’s DNA,” says Harter. “They’re two of the most important passion points and Super Bowl halftime is the greatest platform where these two points meet.”

Pepsi doesn’t disclose the terms of its talent partnerships, but says the widely-reported $50 million number “represents the total value of a multi-year global campaign and not necessarily its deal with Beyoncé.”

Instead, Pepsi says the “bulk” of the $50 million can be thought of as a production budget for the entire campaign: creative development, advertising production, paid media investments and retail activation.

“Beyoncé’s fee and a creative development fund that we created in partnership with her are only one portion of the $50 million deal,” Pepsi spokeswoman Andrea Foote said.

Terms of the deal aside, Sunday’s payoff -- for Beyoncé and her brand -- can be described conservatively as utterly enormous. The Texas-based agency The Marketing Arm, which uses a metric called the Davie-Brown Index to measure celebrity marketability, says Beyoncé is ranked in the top 25 of living celebrities as an influencer and celebrity. As a setter of trends, she compares to stars Justin
Timberlake, Will Smith, Adele and the breakout NFL star and fellow Texan Robert Griffin III.

And yet on Sunday, for all of her celebrity, Beyoncé will -- by at least one aspect of her performance Sunday -- be framed as an everywoman. The full service agency Mekanism, whose expertise lies in storytelling for emerging media, crowdsourced nearly 100,000 photos from her fans to create a 35-second spot that will welcome Beyoncé to the stage.

“The scope of this project is probably the most ambitious thing that we’ve done,” creative lead Tommy Means says, adding that it builds on a previous spot Mekanism did with Eminem and Lipton’s Brisk Iced Tea. “Beyoncé even reached out to her massive Twitter following and really, you know, this is the Super Bowl. It’s Beyoncé. This is as big as it gets.”