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Pepsi Refresh

February 7, 2010

Happy Super Bowl Sunday!

The Super Bowl isn’t a big deal for me.  In fact, neither is football.  Having attended a Big Ten university, one might think I would have learned something about football — nope.  I have seen one full game of football and tonight will not be making it two.  I’m just looking forward to seeing what Kim is wearing….

Like a lot of people, the only reason I have ever even watched the game is for the commercials.  According to the New York Times, this year ads will cost about $3 million for 30 seconds.  Factor in the cost of producing the piece, it becomes harder to believe the ads are worth it for a company.  I recognize that they will run the ads more than once after tonight and they are already available on Hulu, but is it worth the investment?

This year, Pepsi decided it was not.  They have launched the Pepsi Refresh initiative.

Pepsi annually donates millions of dollars to making the world a better place, but is now soliciting consumers’ help via crowdsourcing.    You can submit an application for an idea you have to make the world a better place.  Once you apply, you promote your idea using Facebook, Twitter or just by talking to your friends so they can vote for your idea.  Finally, Pepsi chooses winners every month and gives grants ranging from $5k, $25k, $50k and $250k.  That is some serious money that could do real good.

I think this idea is great on a number of levels.

  • Most importantly, Pepsi Refresh is a way to make the world better.  Often, money and good intentions get tied up in bureaucracy, but by giving grants to individuals and small companies that might never have received the money otherwise, Pepsi will hopefully cut some of the red tape.
  • Pepsi is generating ideas from many more people than normal grant foundations do, so there are fresh ideas (refresh everything).  There will certainly be some that will make a difference in the world.
  • This is social media at its best.  Every part of this initiative relies on people, and people interacting with people.  While they are not talking about how delicious Pepsi’s sodas are, they are spreading the larger brand name and associating it with doing good.  It also incorporates all aspects of social media instead of a targeted program on only one site.

Even if Super Bowl ads really do generate enough revenue that they make sense fiscally, Pepsi’s approach make sense for the brand.  Sure, instead of making money, they are giving it away, but they are interacting with their consumers and creating relationships that will endure longer than 30-seconds.

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