Forbes: Super Bowl, A Missed Opportunity For Pepsi

Good For BusinessLeft: Pepsi launched a bold social marketing play, find out what went well –and what opportunities were missed.

Greetings, fellow strategists, In my latest column for the Forbes CMO Network (you can read all my Forbes pieces) I analyzed Pepsi’s big push into social. Also, you should see my detailed field notes, (I did my research before, during, and after the game, thanks to Trendrr folks) to measure any specific changes, before coming up with my findings. I did contact Pepsi pre article to get comments, although they sent me an email after the Forbes piece was up, see bottom response.


Super Bowl: A Missed Opportunity For Pepsi

Cola maker should promote its social cause on TV.

PepsiCo ditched the Super Bowl this year to make a major social media play. Instead of spending money for ad time on the Super Bowl, it’s relying primarily on digital initiatives to spread the word about its Internet-based Refresh Project contest and charity campaign.

The cause-marketing effort is a good one. Word is spreading through traditional media, online networks, social media and celebrity chatter. But I believe Pepsi made a big mistake in giving up its long-held Super Bowl ad real estate. A more integrated media approach–one that included the Super Bowl–would be a savvy play for Pepsi. And such integration is something top marketing executives need to keep in mind in their rush to embrace digital initiatives.

Let’s take a look at Pepsi’s campaign playbook.

The Big Gamble: Social Over Traditional Advertising
Pepsi, as a major ad player, knows that brand association is key to its marketing strategy. Company executives also know that there’s a shift in consumer adoption toward social technologies and that marketers can’t count on reaching the consumers they want to engage through TV. In response to this, Pepsi execs decided to spend the money the company typically plows into buying and creating Super Bowl spots–$20 million or so–to promote and fund a campaign that will identify causes that are worthy of supporting. At refresheverything.com Pepsi encourages consumers to submit ideas to improve community or causes then activate their personal networks to vote for the ideas. To date, the number of submissions possible for the first round of awards has been maxed. It also enjoys a continuous buzz on Twitter with the hashtag #PepsiRefresh.

Playing to its Strengths: Budgets, Celebrities and First Mover
Pepsi has a lot of things going for it. It has the deep pockets to keep a campaign going long-term. It has benefited from notable press buzz from being the first mover of a radical approach. Additionally, the company is using traditional media outlets to glean endorsements from celebrities, including New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees on NFL.com. His charity of choice: the American Cancer Society.

Missed Opportunity: In-Game Tie-In
Pepsi made a misstep in this bold media shift: The company alienated a key channel and missed out on tying Pepsi Refresh to the most-watched TV event in Western media (correction to “U.S. Media” see comments below for details). By not having any in-game discussion on the advertisements, it was unable to use the Super Bowl or its advertisements as a catapult to launch the campaign into the social sphere. In fact, after the game, overall mentions of Pepsi and the Pepsi Refresh campaign remained relatively on the same trajectory as before. To look at a detailed set of my field notes and data, I’m tracking mentions using Trendrr of blog posts, Tweets and news articles on my field notes page.

Campaign Analysis: Advantages
Pepsi’s novel approach to social cause marketing is headed in the right direction. Pepsi benefits from:

  • First-mover advantage. By announcing a radical approach Pepsi took advantage of pre-event press coverage (including a story in Forbes).
  • Using celebrities to spur campaign. Pepsi invested in influential relationships by the utilization of celebrity endorsements.
  • Shifting to “we” over “me.” Pepsi has shifted traditional brand advertising efforts to now being more community-focused, enabling those who won the monies to spread the Pepsi brand on their behalf.
  • Planning for the long haul. Pepsi is making its marketing dollars go to work by extending the program over months, rather than a short flight of Super Bowl ads.

Campaign Analysis: Risks
While innovative, Pepsi has some clear challenges–and missed opportunities:

  • Pepsi has yet to show the world it gets social marketing. Its recent entry into the space with the edgy–but sexist–“Amp” iPhone applications resulted in severe backlash, and is now a case study on the infamous punk’d list.
  • Cultural mismatch. Pepsi’s history of mass marketing means it will need to change its internal culture to embrace social marketing, where success lies in letting go of control.
  • Missed opportunity to integrate Super Bowl TV ads with campaign. Pepsi’s biggest misstep is putting all its eggs in one basket–and not benefiting from synergies of multiple channels.

Takeaway: An Integrated Approach to Media is Best
By shifting so much of its annual ad budget from one channel to another, Pepsi missed an opportunity to spur word-of-mouth chatter about its Refresh initiative. Instead Pepsi should have relegated an appropriate amount of TV advertising budget to Pepsi Refresh, encouraging submitting ideas, voting and sharing in the context of the game. It would also introduce Pepsi as a socially conscious marketer to a larger group of people.

CMOs experimenting with digital and social technologies should not invest in them as a silo. They should instead be part of an overall integrated marketing effort.


JKO: Below is Bonin Bough, Pepsi’s Social Marketing strategist response via email. He’s given me permission to publish the following, and I appreciate the time he took to respond in an active dialog.

Bonin: I enjoyed reading your initial analysis of our Pepsi Refresh Project.

Let’s me start by saying on your key takeaway, we are on the same page: An Integrated Approach to Media is Best.

And that’s the approach we’re taking with the Pepsi Refresh Project. Throughout the course of the year-long initiative, we’re absolutely using traditional channels — television included — to support it. Our decision not to announce the program on the Super Bowl was not because we don’t believe in the power of television. We do. Or that we don’t believe in the Super Bowl, specifically. We do. (As you know, we chose to advertise other PepsiCo brands during the game.) The decision was based on the opinion that it wasn’t the most contextually relevant way to tell the story. Arguable? Perhaps. But the conversation around the program — the amount of it and the overall tenor of it — thus far suggests that it may well have been the right approach.

But we’re going to continue to engage in, enable, listen to and evaluate the conversation. And if it seems that we need to course correct we will. A sign, I think, of an internal culture and a senior management that is embracing social marketing.

Of course, the Pepsi Refresh Project is about more than marketing. It’s about engagement … about building affinity and building advocacy by making a real and measureable difference in people’s lives. And that’s why we take very seriously your point about impact. We’ve aligned with top-notch partners including GOOD, Global Giving and Do Something in building the Pepsi Refresh Project. A leading academic and research group will be assisting with project follow-up and measuring community impact. We’re optimistic about the very great potential.

We’ll be watching and sharing as the ideas build, the stories unfold and impact becomes evident. I look forward to watching your analysis and continuing the dialogue throughout the course of the program and the course of the year.

JKO: Thanks Bonin, we’ll continue to watch the interesting moves Pepsi is taking in the space of disruptive technologies. We agree, Pepsi’s core program is strong –but it can be refined by keeping all engines on –not putting all eggs in one basket. I appreciate the time you took to give me feedback. I’ll see you at SXSW again this year.

  • branislavperic

    Brilliant analysis, Amen.
    This is exactly how I felt when I noticed that Pepsi was leaving SuperBowl advertising behind.

  • FabriceCalando

    That's a great analysis.
    I am currently working in the TV industry and I had a conversation about this with a colleague yesterday. Now, more than ever, companies need to think 360 degrees…integrated approaches are key!

  • Please correct Western media to American media – there are far more events that have a much bigger audience outside the SuperBowl in the US.

  • Katia, got any stats? I'll be happy to make the correction.

    I did some cursory research, but it shows the Superbowl towards the top, Note the world stats are 'unverifiable'

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_most-watch

  • Jeremiah, see some below. On a country-country basis, the US is probably at the top, but the US is not the only Western country. You have to look at the combined number of viewership of one single event in the Western world.

    http://www.fifa.com/mm/document/fifafacts/ffpro

    http://www.forbes.com/2006/06/05/world-cup-socc

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FIFA_World_Cup
    “See also: List of FIFA World Cup broadcasters

    The World Cup was first televised in 1954 and is now the most widely-viewed and followed sporting event in the world, exceeding even the Olympic Games. The cumulative audience of all matches of the 2006 World Cup is estimated to be 26.29 billion.[1] 715.1 million individuals watched the final match of this tournament (a ninth of the entire population of the planet). The 2006 World Cup draw, which decided the distribution of teams into groups, was watched by 300 million viewers.”

  • Here's a stat on the final game of the 2006 Wold Cup, which is comparable to the SuperBowl: http://74.125.113.132/search?q=cache:Qw0dHtoV9a

    It's a little hard to find stats on a country-by-country basis, but I think we can see the picture here. You combine all the Western countries, and the audience from those is, with no doubt, the majority.

    “The final attracted an estimated audience of 715.1 million people.[1] The 2006 World Cup ranks fourth in non-unique viewers, behind the 1994, the 2002, and the 1990 FIFA World Cups.”

  • Here's some more. I was wrong, Asia is the majority:

    http://74.125.113.132/search?q=cache:RhWj8Ymhs0

    Default Worldwide TV Ratings for the 2006 FIFA World Cup Final
    Fifa claims 1.1 billion people watched the 2002 WC final.

    http://www.fifa.com/en/marketing/new…509,10,0…

    Of course that figure is probably exagerated a bit. The real number could be closer to 800-900 million viewers.

    Anyways, since the WC was not held in Asia this year (ie. the final won't be in primetime tv in China) overall tv ratings should be somewhat lower. Plus having two teams from the same confederation won't help either.

    It's estimated there're over 1.1 billion TV households in the world. Here's a breakdown by region:

    Approximate TV households (in millions)
    Asia Pacific ……………..630m (China 350m, India 100m)
    Europe …………………..240m
    North America ………….122m (USA 110m, Canada 12m)
    Latin America/Caribbean 120m
    Africa/Middle East ……….70m

    Here's my estimate. I'll use 3 or 4 persons/household in my calculations:

    Asia ………….. 10% of households -> 63m * 4 ~ 252m viewers
    Europe ………. 35% -> 84m * 3 ~ 252m viewers
    L.America ……. 20% -> 24m * 3 ~ 72m viewers
    Africa/M.E……. 20% -> 14m * 3 ~ 42m viewers
    North America… 7% -> 8.5m * 2.5 ~ 21m viewers
    Worldwide out-of-home viewing tv audience (pubs, bars, etc) ~40m viewers

    Total worldwide viewers: ~ 679million

  • Integrated marketing campaigns are indeed a must. And based on viewership numbers, the Superbowl is difficult to beat. But why are evaluations being made as to the success or failure of this decision, without considering the impact that is has had on the Pepsi brand?

    I don't think enough credit is being given to Pepsi for their strategic vision which:
    a) recognizes that in order to build their brand, they need to evolve the nature of the conversations related to it. Coke's Facebook page with over 4 million fans was the homage created by two very loyal Coke fans. Talk about love for a brand! Project Refresh's initial response indicates that Pepsi is on their way to possibly creating an equally, albeit different, dialogue with their audience.

    b) CSR is a long-term commitment, therefore comparing it to immediate response rates (i.e. TV) is an apples to oranges type of comparison

    c) Pepsi's absence from the Superbowl was “the message”. Kudos to Pepsi's Bonin Bough for ensuring integrity from concept through to delivery. It is refreshing (no pun intended) to see big brands find bold, brave and creative ways to communicate the spirit of their brand. While others are using a big-blast bomb approaches to getting their message through, Pepsi was right by sticking to their human instincts of engagement and authentic dedication to dialogue-building.

    Only time will tell as to the true impact of Pepsi's media decision. The answer would lie in future brand tracking reports. If Pepsi is able to move the needle beyond current brand perceptions related to music, big celebrities and pop events, and toward a more human level of relationship – then they in fact have succeeded. From an emotional branding perspective, if they stick with their hearts and continue to make brave choices such as sitting-out of the Superbowl, the world will respond by opening up more hearts to their brand. Feel free to contact me via twitter @ADHumlen. Thank you for allowing me to share my two cents on the matter.

  • Pepsi's move is brilliant and pre-emptive. The superbowl would have been a one shot. This kind of program needs extension, not spikes. Pepsi knows what it's doing, not doubt.

  • branislavperic

    Brilliant analysis, Amen.
    This is exactly how I felt when I noticed that Pepsi was leaving SuperBowl advertising behind.

  • That's a great analysis.
    I am currently working in the TV industry and I had a conversation about this with a colleague yesterday. Now, more than ever, companies need to think 360 degrees…integrated approaches are key!

  • I agre, not spikes but ongoing growth. I saw the Superbowl TV ads as a way to trigger ongoing growth up-and-to-the-right

  • Please correct Western media to American media – there are far more events that have a much bigger audience outside the SuperBowl in the US.

  • Katia, got any stats? I'll be happy to make the correction.

    I did some cursory research, but it shows the Superbowl towards the top, Note the world stats are 'unverifiable'

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_most-watch

  • Jeremiah, see some below. On a country-country basis, the US is probably at the top, but the US is not the only Western country. You have to look at the combined number of viewership of one single event in the Western world.

    http://www.fifa.com/mm/document/fifafacts/ffpro

    http://www.forbes.com/2006/06/05/world-cup-socc

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FIFA_World_Cup
    “See also: List of FIFA World Cup broadcasters

    The World Cup was first televised in 1954 and is now the most widely-viewed and followed sporting event in the world, exceeding even the Olympic Games. The cumulative audience of all matches of the 2006 World Cup is estimated to be 26.29 billion.[1] 715.1 million individuals watched the final match of this tournament (a ninth of the entire population of the planet). The 2006 World Cup draw, which decided the distribution of teams into groups, was watched by 300 million viewers.”

  • Here's a stat on the final game of the 2006 Wold Cup, which is comparable to the SuperBowl: http://74.125.113.132/search?q=cache:Qw0dHtoV9a

    It's a little hard to find stats on a country-by-country basis, but I think we can see the picture here. You combine all the Western countries, and the audience from those is, with no doubt, the majority.

    “The final attracted an estimated audience of 715.1 million people.[1] The 2006 World Cup ranks fourth in non-unique viewers, behind the 1994, the 2002, and the 1990 FIFA World Cups.”

  • Here's some more. I was wrong, Asia is the majority:

    http://74.125.113.132/search?q=cache:RhWj8Ymhs0

    Default Worldwide TV Ratings for the 2006 FIFA World Cup Final
    Fifa claims 1.1 billion people watched the 2002 WC final.

    http://www.fifa.com/en/marketing/new…509,10,0…

    Of course that figure is probably exagerated a bit. The real number could be closer to 800-900 million viewers.

    Anyways, since the WC was not held in Asia this year (ie. the final won't be in primetime tv in China) overall tv ratings should be somewhat lower. Plus having two teams from the same confederation won't help either.

    It's estimated there're over 1.1 billion TV households in the world. Here's a breakdown by region:

    Approximate TV households (in millions)
    Asia Pacific ……………..630m (China 350m, India 100m)
    Europe …………………..240m
    North America ………….122m (USA 110m, Canada 12m)
    Latin America/Caribbean 120m
    Africa/Middle East ……….70m

    Here's my estimate. I'll use 3 or 4 persons/household in my calculations:

    Asia ………….. 10% of households -> 63m * 4 ~ 252m viewers
    Europe ………. 35% -> 84m * 3 ~ 252m viewers
    L.America ……. 20% -> 24m * 3 ~ 72m viewers
    Africa/M.E……. 20% -> 14m * 3 ~ 42m viewers
    North America… 7% -> 8.5m * 2.5 ~ 21m viewers
    Worldwide out-of-home viewing tv audience (pubs, bars, etc) ~40m viewers

    Total worldwide viewers: ~ 679million

  • Integrated marketing campaigns are indeed a must. And based on viewership numbers, the Superbowl is difficult to beat. But why are evaluations being made as to the success or failure of this decision, without considering the impact that is has had on the Pepsi brand?

    I don't think enough credit is being given to Pepsi for their strategic vision which:
    a) recognizes that in order to build their brand, they need to evolve the nature of the conversations related to it. Coke's Facebook page with over 4 million fans was the homage created by two very loyal Coke fans. Talk about love for a brand! Project Refresh's initial response indicates that Pepsi is on their way to possibly creating an equally, albeit different, dialogue with their audience.

    b) CSR is a long-term commitment, therefore comparing it to immediate response rates (i.e. TV) is an apples to oranges type of comparison

    c) Pepsi's absence from the Superbowl was “the message”. Kudos to Pepsi's Bonin Bough for ensuring integrity from concept through to delivery. It is refreshing (no pun intended) to see big brands find bold, brave and creative ways to communicate the spirit of their brand. While others are using a big-blast bomb approaches to getting their message through, Pepsi was right by sticking to their human instincts of engagement and authentic dedication to dialogue-building.

    Only time will tell as to the true impact of Pepsi's media decision. The answer would lie in future brand tracking reports. If Pepsi is able to move the needle beyond current brand perceptions related to music, big celebrities and pop events, and toward a more human level of relationship – then they in fact have succeeded. From an emotional branding perspective, if they stick with their hearts and continue to make brave choices such as sitting-out of the Superbowl, the world will respond by opening up more hearts to their brand. Feel free to contact me via twitter @ADHumlen. Thank you for allowing me to share my two cents on the matter.

  • Pepsi's move is brilliant and pre-emptive. The superbowl would have been a one shot. This kind of program needs extension, not spikes. Pepsi knows what it's doing, not doubt.

  • I agre, not spikes but ongoing growth. I saw the Superbowl TV ads as a way to trigger ongoing growth up-and-to-the-right

  • Jeremiah, haven't heard from you on my stats. I think I provided enough. You don't agree?

  • We also need to bear in mind that if Pepsi had advertised during the Super Bowl, its message might have been lost in the flurry of people slapping each other (how many commercials included slaps or punches?).

  • Sorry Jeremiah – but I guess you missed the point on this one. An average human is hit by 4,000 brand messages a day. Do you really think that this one is so different? The conversation about NOT Being there is 5 times as intense than just do business as usual. If you watched Indra Nooyi's interview in Davos – you get the idea http://www.socialmedia-academy.com/blog/index.p…. So in essence – perfect move in any aspect. The bug deal from monster.com was 10+ years ago – so get over it. Advertising is just not going to cut it – even if this 0.7 Trillion $ industry tells you otherwise. ceaseadvertising.com

    Axel
    http://xeesm.com/AxelS

  • I agree with Katia. There are no stats to support the claim that a Super Bowl ad drives ongoing engagement or word of mouth. From my experience the Super Bowl is a huge bubble of attention that inflates slowly, then very fast and pops 2 days after the event.

    Would love to see some data from integrated campaigns that *did* use the Super Bowl to drive increased metrics that were sustained — other brands with similar integrated campaigns.

    Pepsi Refresh is a year-long program. I think an investment in a Super Bowl ad would have gone flat very quickly.

  • Jeremiah, haven't heard from you on my stats. I think I provided enough. You don't agree?

  • We also need to bear in mind that if Pepsi had advertised during the Super Bowl, its message might have been lost in the flurry of people slapping each other (how many commercials included slaps or punches?).

  • Sorry Jeremiah – but I guess you missed the point on this one. An average human is hit by 4,000 brand messages a day. Do you really think that this one is so different? The conversation about NOT Being there is 5 times as intense than just do business as usual. If you watched Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi's interview in Davos – you get the idea http://www.socialmedia-academy.com/blog/index.p…. So in essence – perfect move in any aspect. The big deal from monster.com was 10+ years ago – so get over it. Advertising is just not going to cut it – even if this 0.7 Trillion $ industry tells you otherwise. ceaseadvertising.com

    Axel
    http://xeesm.com/AxelS

  • I agree with Katia. There are no comparison stats to support the claim that a Super Bowl ad drives ongoing engagement or word of mouth in a digital channel.

    From my experience, the opposite is true and the continuous growth that Jeremy alludes to in his post is the path to success. The Super Bowl is a huge bubble of attention that inflates slowly, then very fast and pops 2 days after the event.

    Would love to see some data from integrated campaigns that *did* use the Super Bowl to drive increased metrics that were sustained — other brands with similar integrated campaigns.

    Pepsi Refresh is a year-long program. I think an investment in a Super Bowl ad would have gone flat very quickly.

    Update: Found this report comparing Pepsi vs Coke leading up to the Super Bowl and beyond with some good rough metrics (PDF): http://zqi.me/bGQNiZ

  • We did an analysis of Pepsi Refresh Campaign using Sysomos. The results as follows

    36,017 Twitter mentions
    2,035 Blog mentions
    185 Forum mentions
    676 News

    Which is very less compared to other super bowl advertisers

  • Mike,

    Thanks for using Sysomos to explore the Pepsi campaign. We look at all the Super Bowl ads to see what kind of activity happened on Twitter – http://blog.sysomos.com/2010/02/08/analyzing-su….

  • We did an analysis of Pepsi Refresh Campaign using Sysomos. The results as follows

    36,017 Twitter mentions
    2,035 Blog mentions
    185 Forum mentions
    676 News

    Which is very less compared to other super bowl advertisers

  • Mike,

    Thanks for using Sysomos to explore the Pepsi campaign. We look at all the Super Bowl ads to see what kind of activity happened on Twitter – http://blog.sysomos.com/2010/02/08/analyzing-su….

  • By moving at this time, the way they did, they generated a lot of 'buzz' purely because of the size of organisation involved. This will have obviously helped people be aware of their strategy, and create some interest to get their social media rolling.
    I noticed recently while watching a football match on UK TV, that certain companies had paid for hoardings around the pitch to advertise their Twitter presence – a move, I think the smaller players will have to adopt.
    Not everyone will get the initial 'leg up' that the big boys get – but it has to be the right direction . . .

  • By moving at this time, the way they did, they generated a lot of 'buzz' purely because of the size of organisation involved. This will have obviously helped people be aware of their strategy, and create some interest to get their social media rolling.
    I noticed recently while watching a football match on UK TV, that certain companies had paid for hoardings around the pitch to advertise their Twitter presence – a move, I think the smaller players will have to adopt.
    Not everyone will get the initial 'leg up' that the big boys get – but it has to be the right direction . . .

  • Hi Mark,

    Sysomos is one of the best social media analysis tool. If you integrate it with Social support features like reply etc, it will become dominant player. I have done more analysis using Sysomos.

    Thanks,
    Wicke

  • Hi Mark,

    Sysomos is one of the best social media analysis tool. If you integrate it with Social support features like reply etc, it will become dominant player. I have done more analysis using Sysomos.

    Thanks,
    Wicke

  • As well as strategic. No, they didn't buy the Superbowl, but they bought day after on TV where they were still able to reach key target demos looking for post game coverage. This is what seems to be lost. Pepsi never said they were going to avoid television. They just said they weren't going to buy on the day of the Superbowl.

  • As well as strategic. No, they didn't buy the Superbowl, but they bought day after on TV where they were still able to reach key target demos looking for post game coverage. This is what seems to be lost. Pepsi never said they were going to avoid television. They just said they weren't going to buy on the day of the Superbowl.

  • As well as strategic. No, they didn't buy the Superbowl, but they bought day after on TV where they were still able to reach key target demos looking for post game coverage. This is what seems to be lost. Pepsi never said they were going to avoid television. They just said they weren't going to buy on the day of the Superbowl.

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  • Hi, if Pepsi is able to move the needle beyond current brand perceptions related to music, big celebrities and pop events, and toward a more human level of relationship – then they in fact have succeeded. From an emotional branding perspective, if they stick with their hearts and continue to make brave choices such as sitting-out of the Superbowl, the world will respond by opening up more hearts to their brand.

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