Pepsi made a choice. For the first time in 23 years, they chose to forgo buying commercial time during the Super Bowl. Instead, they redirected the $20 million to launch the Pepsi Refresh Project, a viral marketing campaign that awards grants to non-profits in a variety of communities across the catagories of health, arts & culture, food & shelter, the planet, neighborhoods, and education. Anyone can submit a grant idea online and everyone is welcome to vote.
Naturally, what I like most about the campaign is that is does GOOD. $20 million goes a long way in these organizations and certainly has a longer lasting impression than a 30 second spot.
But that aside, I give the campaign props because it requires Pepsi to engage with their consumer in a way that few of the big companies choose to do. This engagement between brand and consumer is real and the experience can’t be replicated. Gene Liebel, partner for user experience at Huge, which was involved in the development and design for the site, said "the emphasis the campaign places on social media demonstrates how a big brand is letting what used to be called the audience take part in what can become a movement.” I like that. Let's be a part of this movement and encourage other brands to rethink not only the way they spend their advertising dollars, but how they can impact the world.