Pepsi’s Plunge into Social Media

8 Mar

Pepsi Refresh Initiative AdvertisementWhen Pepsi announced its decision to sit on the sidelines of this year’s Super Bowl, doubts mounted.  Did the rash move pay off?

Forgoing its 23-year legacy of Super Bowl Advertising, Pepsi delegated the $20 million that would normally be used for the procurement and creation of 30 second ads to a series of grants.

With the mission of “refreshing the world,” Pepsi allows customers and users to submit project ideas in one of six categories (Health, Arts & Culture, Food & Shelter, The Planet, Neighborhoods and Education) in which site visitors can vote on their favorite ideas.

In theory, the campaign is a great idea.  Pepsi will simultaneously receive valuable (and free) marketing research about what social causes matter most to its customers and will build another differentiating advantage that will boil down to customers’ decision at the point of purchase.

Implementation is key.

Many argue that Pepsi has already made a huge misstep.  A columnist for Forbes CMO Network states that Pepsi “made a big mistake in giving up its long-held Super Bowl ad real estate.” He claims that Pepsi could have used this channel to its advantage, citing the game as “most-watched TV event in U.S. media.”

Pepsi’s decision to sit out the Super Bowl was made after analyzing whether or not the game was the most appropriate means of promoting the social good campaign.

Known for extravagance, where each brand competes for the attention and awe of fixated fans with outrageous commercials, the Super Bowl is an adfest featuring sex, fools, and violence, not a place to promote bettering one’s community.

Wouldn’t the audience wonder why the company, so concerned with “refreshing the world” would spend millions that could be used for social good on an expensive ad?

Pepsi felt placing a Super Bowl ad promoting the campaign would undermine the credibility of the entire operation.  As Lee Clow, the chief creative director of the agency that created the campaign questions, “Couldn’t that money be put to better use?”

The company’s absence has generated more buzz than its presence: In the weeks leading up to the big game, the Internet was humming with responses ranging from outrage to disbelief to praise for Pepsi’s bold move.

The buzz surrounding the debate as to whether or not Pepsi made the right choice is suffice to prove the value of sitting out the Super Bowl.  Simply because of the novelty of its social good initiative and the accompanying marketing decisions, the Pepsi Refresh Project will be a success.


2 Responses to “Pepsi’s Plunge into Social Media”

  1. Mr WordPress March 8, 2010 at 5:10 pm #

    Hi, this is a comment.
    To delete a comment, just log in, and view the posts’ comments, there you will have the option to edit or delete them.


  2. chandlermoisen March 20, 2010 at 10:51 pm #

    Tres interesting.

    It is refreshing to see corporate giants taking more of a social initiative, but as to whether Pepsi was justified in sitting out the super bowl ads barrage as yet to be seen.

    Your final thought, however, does shed some light on the decision. Pepsi was able to stir-up publicity – to a larger audience than just super bowl viewers – by sitting out. So good or bad, Pepsi is getting it’s name out there.

    It should be fun to follow the story and see how it all turns out.


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