Trading in TV ads for the Pepsi Refresh Project

The Pepsi Refresh Project

First post of 2010, here goes. Well Pepsi global have made the ballsy move to reallocate a significant amount of their marketing spend to a global social project. They’ve jumped on the youth empowerment bandwagon and created the Pepsi ‘Refresh Project’. Pretty simple, people suggest ideas via social media, if you gather enough votes for your idea (to ‘refresh’ the world in some way) Pepsi will hand out cash for you to do it. From grants of $5k to $250k, they are giving away millions of $$$.  They’ve taken a generic positioning of ‘refresh’ and are applying it on a cause related global scale.

Does it feel orginal? No I’ve seen a few similar ideas done last year and orginally in ’08 with AMEX Members Project.  Is it engaging? Well the current content promoting it is dead boring but the engagement machanic and idea toolkit is simple and easy which is the #1 rule in this type of participation based idea.

 Firstly, respect to Pepsi for trying to do something that positively creates value in our society and engages young people. However, the problem I see with this idea is a potential  disconnect youth will have with this idea coming from Pepsi. Feels like a brand trying to do a 180 on people. So one minute you’re showing me over the top TV ads with Britney and JT and standing for Hollywood celeb culture, the next minute you’re trying to save the world??? I think alot of American youth are going to be scratching their heads going ..WTF???  But if they are serious about it and stay committed to this positioining and it filters through to all their NPD and trade practices etc, they should get some good traction.  There  is mass ‘save the world’ sentiment going round at the moment (for good reason) and marketers are tapping into it, even if HOPENHAGEN really didn’t do much at all.

It’s clear Pepsi global is worried that Coke is getting all the good ‘social’ karma with their Coke Expedition 206 idea, ‘spreading happiness’ around the world for a year and involvement with Hopenhagen.  I will be keenly following this idea and I’ve already seen transit posters promoting it here in Sydney, no doublt they are blitzing media spend in North America/Europe.

At the end of the day, the are creating positive value in society and I give them cred for that, well done Pepsi !!

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