Pepsi Dumps Super Bowl—Doubles Down on Pepsi Refresh Sponsorship

Photo by Manuls

I’m a Coke drinker. I became loyal when I consulted on Coca-Cola’s first literacy promotion with Reading Is Fundamental and Harry Potter—the first book. I know, I know—ancient history.

But Pepsi’s recent decision to forgo a pricey Super Bowl ad to pour the money into projects that improve communities has me ready to switch brands.

The Pepsi Refresh Project has been a colossal success for the brand. It’s viral, it’s humane and it delivers one key ingredient to the Pepsi brand: a new generation of young people. They are the heart and soul of the Pepsi brand.

The New York Times reports that Pepsi’s decision to withdraw from the Super Bowl was prompted by an understanding that Millennials want to make their mark—especially to improve their communities.

Sometimes, it takes brands a long time to catch up to where the culture is going. Most stay in a rut. But Pepsi innovated its brand message by taking small steps, and sticking with it.

Forgive me if I take a moment to revel in Pepsi’s decision. For years, I stood before marketing teams to pitch cause-marketing campaigns. I secretly called them “murder boards” where hard-boiled marketing executives, many of them male sports fans, would grill me with tough, nasty questions. The idea that even a dollar of the sports sponsorship budget might be redirected was like taking away the playground toys.

It seems a new day is dawning. Brands are waking up to the power of harnessing their marketing dollars to empower consumers to make a difference in the world.

“This was not a corporate philanthropy effort,” said Shiv Singh, head of digital for PepsiCo Beverages America. “This was using brand dollars with the belief that when you use these brand dollars to have consumers share ideas to change the world, the consumers will win, the brand will win, and the community will win. That was a big bet. No one has done it on this scale before.”

As they say at the Billy Goat Tavern in Chicago, made famous by SNL, “No Coke. Pepsi!”

Source: The New York Times