Pepsi invests 20M$ in Attention Marketing

Author: Brice Le Blévennec

After 23 years of presence at the Superbowl, the greatest unifying event that makes every creative mind drool, Pepsi has decided to stop investing in Superbowl advertising, which costs no less than 20 million dollars. So, what are they going to do with all that money, I hear you thinking (“Darling, I’ve found some savings under the mattress. How about some serious spending?”). Well, Mr. Pepsi has decided to make a courageous choice. One that is in line with the current media environment. He is indeed going to invest this money in social media! And the new project got a name as well: it’s called the Pepsi Refresh Project.

No, Pepsi is not going to stop its TV advertising. But the TV commercial for the Superbowl does have some symbolic value for a brand, no? Choosing not to do it, is indeed the sign of a new mindset: go beyond prototypes and one-shot tests of digital campaigns and invest considerable resources in a new type of relationship, not to mention make a sustainable promise to consumers.

In short, we have Coca-Cola, which is the brand of story-telling, of impressive commercials that tell a story that appeals to all ages, that activates our fantasy and that tries to be our good soft drink friend that makes us dream. And then we have Pepsi: a brand that lives in the real world, that is people-centric, the everyday brand, the brand that helps us to reveal our talents and to make the projects of everyday people possible. It is the soft drink that becomes our everyday friend on whom we can rely. The splendid but surreal story against everyday stories of real life, of practical and simple changes.

Look at this, you’ve got to admit it’s quite impressive :

Let’s look back at the key 2009 facts, when Pepsi announced its change of tactics…

  • The business efficiency of social media is a proven fact. The question is not whether to go for it but how to go for it and how to best prepare the organisation to learn new reflexes, after years of traditional advertising.
  • This Metrix Lab study for L’Oréal shows Digital and TV are equally efficient and that results are optimized when both media are combined.
  • The WetPaint Altimeter survey (July 2009) shows that brands that have gone ‘social’ have made +18% profit compared to -6% for the others.

So, in this context, I am confident the spontaneous brand awareness of Pepsi will dramatically increase. And I am fairly certain sales will follow the same growth curve, at a very reasonable cost, with attractive and long-lasting communication. Indeed, the difference between TV and web is that the latter has a memory. An advertiser’s efforts leave traces that will reach other surfers via spontaneous searches.

So I congratulate Pepsi to have taken the time to rethink its brand, to choose a media-neutral approach, to implement an Attention Marketing approach. And to celebrate the occasion, I am going to buy a bottle of Pepsi Max to see whether I’m not wrong about my preferred Coke Zero. And I can tell you that as a great fan of soft drinks, my consumption habits will change, if the product is good (that being of course the underlying condition of any type of communication).

Manuel Diaz

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