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Pepsi Invites the Public to Do Good


By STUART ELLIOTT Published: January 31, 2010
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DECADES ago, consumers were invited to be sociable, have a Pepsi. Now the brand wants to invite consumers to help Pepsi support social causes and will use social media like Facebook and Twitter to help spread a message.
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On Monday, PepsiCo w ill begin a campaign called the Pepsi Refresh Project, in w hich consumers w ill be asked to vote for causes they like.

Pepsi-Cola is formally introducing on SHARE Monday an ambitious campaign named the Pepsi Refresh Project, aimed at doing well by doing good. The brand is dedicating at least $20 million through the end of the year for donations to local organizations and causes proposed by the public in realms like health, arts and culture, the environment and education. Ideas for Pepsi Refresh grants can be submitted each month to a Web site (refresheverything.com), where computer users can subsequently vote on the ideas suggested during the previous month. More details are to be disclosed on Monday as a media blitz begins with an appearance by Kevin Bacon and Demi Moore on the Today show on NBC, where they will seek votes for their pet causes. Mr. Bacon will promote SixDegrees.org, and Ms. Moore Girls Educational & Mentoring Services.

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There will also be paid pitches for the project on Today and its Web site as part of an agreement with a marketing unit of NBC Universal named Women@NBCU, which also includes properties like Bravo, Oxygen and USA Network. The goal is to reach female high school and college students, said Lauren Zalaznick, president at the womens lifestyle and entertainment networks at NBC Universal in New Y ork, along with women ages 18 to 54, among them the mothers we call P.T.A. trendsetters who influence their peers. The other big media partners for the project are AOL, Facebook, Hulu, MTV Networks and Parade. There will also be ads on two other broadcast networks, ABC and CBS; on 30 cable channels; in 10 print publications; and on Web sites like Y ahoo. The project is meant to tap into a booming trend for what is called cause-related marketing or pro-social marketing, by which corporations seek to back up their talk about benefiting society. Our idea was that this year wed try to shift the marketing and communications to something thats truly walking the walk, said Lee Clow, chief creative officer and global director for media arts at the Pepsi-Cola agency, TBWA Worldwide in Los Angeles, part of the Omnicom Group. The project is an extension of a campaign his agency introduced last year for Pepsi, which
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Advertising - In New Campaign, Pepsi Invites Public to Do Good - NYTimes.com

carried the theme Every generation refreshes the world. Now its your turn. The goal is to develop a mechanism for young people to create ideas to make things better, he added, that will ultimately become part of the global behavior of the brand. Pepsi initially discussed the project in December when it announced that for the first time in 23 years it would forgo buying commercial time during a Super Bowl. This is a fundamentally different program that required us to engage with our consumers in a different way, said Seth Kaufman, director for media strategy at the PepsiCo North American Beverages unit of PepsiCo in Purchase, N.Y . So although there will be commercials to promote the project, a considerable amount of the advertising will be digital as well as customized content created by the media partners. For instance, Pepsi will sponsor a reality show, If I Can Dream, on hulu.com, which Hulu describes as its first original long-form series. There will be at least 26 weekly episodes, and perhaps 52. It amplifies an advertising campaign, said Jean-Paul Colaco, senior vice president for advertising at Hulu in Los Angeles, by making it something people talk about, more of a social conversation. Among the efforts at MTV Networks, part of Viacom, will be promoting the Pepsi project at awards shows presented by cable channels like Comedy Central, Spike and VH1. Viewers of those channels will welcome such branded entertainment, said Judy McGrath, chairwoman and chief executive at MTV Networks in New Y ork, because they love fun and love doing good, and dont see those as incongruous in any way. The other agencies working on the project are Edelman; Huge, part of the Interpublic Group of Companies; Mr. Y outh; Undercurrent; and Weber Shandwick, also an Interpublic unit. The emphasis the campaign places on social media demonstrates how a big brand is letting what used to be called the audience take part in what can become a movement, said Gene Liebel, partner for user experience at Huge in Brooklyn, which is handling tasks like the development and design of the refresheverything.com site. Huge has also worked on the presence the project will have on Facebook, which will include buying the lead ad position on facebook.com on Super Bowl Sunday. The principal Pepsi-Cola rival, Coca-Cola, which returned to the Super Bowl in 2007, plans to run two commercials during the game. Coke announced last week a social media component to its Super Bowl campaign to be centered on Facebook. Coca-Cola will donate a dollar to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America each time a visitor to the Coca-Cola fan page on Facebook (facebook.com/livepositively) shares a virtual Coke gift. Even when it comes to philanthropy, the giant cola warriors cannot resist poking each other. (And not in the fun, Facebook way.) PepsiCo executives pointed out that Coke is capping its donations at $500,000, compared with the budget for the Pepsi Refresh Project of more than 40 times that. Katie Bayne, chief marketing officer at Coca-Cola North America in Atlanta, responded that the single-month contribution represents only a portion of the almost $60 million in cash and in-kind donations that the company has made to the clubs in just the last 14 years. Although PepsiCo North American Beverages declined to discuss the ad budget for the project, there are plans to spend more on ads for Pepsi-Cola this year than last and to spend more on TV commercials, too, despite the absence from Super Bowl XLIV. According to Kantar Media, a unit of WPP that tracks ad spending, PepsiCo spent $41.6 million to advertise Pepsi in the United States during the first nine months of 2009, down 41 percent from the $70.5 million spent in the same period of 2008. Ad spending for all of 2008 totaled $74.6 million, Kantar Media reported, down 13.4 percent from $86.2 million
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Advertising - In New Campaign, Pepsi Invites Public to Do Good - NYTimes.com

in 2007.
A version of this article appeared in print on February 1, 2010, on page B6 of the New York edition.

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