Saturday, February 13, 2010

Pepsi's "Refresh"ing Campaign

Pepsi Forgoes Super Bowl for Social Media

"Pepsi refreshes the world." This message is prominent throughout the soda product's new social media site. In a risky marketing move, Pepsi decided to forgo their usual hefty commercials during the Super Bowl this year. Instead, Pepsi launched a social media
campaign designed to allow social media users to submit philanthropic ideas that are then voted on by other users. The ideas that receive the most votes will be monetarily supported by Pepsi. Pepsi has committed $20 million to the effort in an attempt to revitalize their marketing strategy.

Divided into sections like Arts and Culture or the Planet, Pepsi categorizes the ideas into monetary categories, starting with $5,000. Submissions are due by the fifteenth and are then voted on until the end of every month. Seems simple, right? Wrong. Hours upon first releasing the campaign, Pepsi's Facebook site became a sounding board for the issues with the submissions.
Technical issues kept many philanthropists from submitting their ideas and Pepsi was forced to respond to the complaints. Though the issue was soon resolved, it gave bad publicity to an effort that needed as much positive attention as possible to work. As one blogger observed, " this is not a good way to launch a massive social marketing campaign aimed at fostering warm-and-fuzzy feelings towards Pepsi."

Unfortunately, philanthropy doesn't seem to have the same "fuzzy feeling" that Cindy Crawford inspired in her famous Daisy Dukes. It was 1992 when Crawford blessed the Super Bowl by guzzling Pepsi while two little boys said that the Pepsi can was "be-a-u-tiful." The end of the 1980's and the beginning of the '90's was still characterized by the common culture. Michael Jackson, Madonna, and Cindy Crawford were huge American symbols of pop culture. Their influence seemed to be universal, so the bet on Crawford could not have been a risky one.

Flash forward to now. Without such a common culture, what Super Bowl ad could compare? Pepsi may not be able to replicate their memorable ads, but they can inspire a new generation of Pepsi drinkers. Though I do not remember the original Cindy Crawford ad, I am old enough to now realize the impact of Pepsi Refresh. If Pepsi is trying to reach my generation, the Millennials, what better way than to appeal to our sense of philanthropy? The idea that Millennials, generally known for their immense interest in self, are trying to make a difference may be novel, but it is true. According to
Tactical Philanthropy
advisors, Millennials are volunteering more than any other age group. Most learn to do this act in college, as it is frequently required of most scholarship and fraternal organizations.

Social Media is a genius way to appeal to this generation as well. Asking someone my age to go to Facebook and submit an idea for a philanthropic endeavor is not hard, despite the initial technical difficulties. After just browsing through the various topics, I came across a project to provide low income mothers with diapers. It ranges from concerns like this one to providing SmartBoards to science students in rural America. However different, these projects have the same goal- to better America and the world one Pepsi (or idea) at a time. I can live without the Super Bowl commercials if it means more babies have diapers and more students have technology. Maybe I am just a typical Millennial.

By making this year's advertising about bettering each other and the planet, Pepsi has invited us to once more have that common culture. We can work together to achieve goals and can help others while we're at it. And that, more than Cindy Crawford in Daisy Dukes, is "be-a-u-tiful."

1 comment:

  1. I like that Pepsi is doing this, and I respect that they are putting their money where their mouth is by skipping the usual big Super Bowl outlay. I hope they do some good with their philanthropy, and perhaps gain some market share for their trouble.

    Of course, Coke still tastes better...