With news about Tim TeBow Superbowl ad and CBS censorship filling up the headlines leading up to the Superbowl ad fest, there was another headline that was worth examining: Pepsi, a staple of Superbowl ads for 23 years will not be partaking in the marketing fiasco and instead will invest $20 million dollar in a Social Media campaign.
That’s how much of a major player social media has become in the world of marketing that a monolith such as Pepsi is willing to choose it over a Superbowl spot. Hopefully, the next generation will be able to experience some of the advertising gold like Pepsi vs. Coke commercials which usually premiere at the Superbowl.
What is it about?
The Refresh Project is a cause-related marketing initiative. The website will allow people to submit their suggestions for community projects and vote on which of them will receive the grants. Pepsi plans to give away multiple grants each month, including two $250,000 grants, ten $50,000 grants, and ten $25,000 grants.
People may submit their suggestions using the site, Facebook, or Twitter and the suggestions so far range from “Provide healing, hope & possibility to survivors of violence and abuse” to “Ship Girl Scout Cookies to the Troops Stationed Overseas“.
The first grants will be handed at the end of February 2009 and while it garnered international recognition and some people handed in suggestions for projects from overseas, it is limited to the United States.
The fact that Pepsi preferred to pull out of the Superbowl in order to do this generated a considerable amount of buzz where articles were written on the topic in ABC, CNN, NPR, Reuters, AP, Wall Street Journal, and many others.
Website Traffic: +110,000 Unique Visitors a month
Twitter Account: (@pepsi): +21,000 Followers
Facebook Fanpage: (Refresh Everything): +513,000 fans
Why did it do what it did?
It seems that Pepsi believes it’s better to invest $20 million in a year long campaign on social media rather than sink $33 or so in a Superbowl ad. This is certainly a step taken with the belief that mass marketing adverts and entertaining ads that create a buzz around the brand no longer give you the best bang for your buck. Part of the reason might be that people are so used to ignoring adverts that it’s really hard to get their attention and make them listen to what you have to say. In contrast, on social media it’s their personal interest and their own initiative that leads them to seek out the marketing campaign and partake in it.
That might be the main reason why big companies like Pepsi are trying new things to get the attention of people. This means that now social media will be competing with TV advertising bucks on a level playing field, and soon more and more companies will be looking into diversifying their advertising models placing further pressure on TV and print to innovate and evolve.
While this piece of news made the headlines because it was unprecedented, earning Pepsi extra PR points the 4th or 5th big company to take this leap of faith won’t get the same treatment. So it’s your move Coke.
What do you think of the Refresh Project? Will you vote for any of the projects? Let us hear your thoughts.