LIFEWTR’s #ArtByAWoman: 5 Questions With PepsiCo’s Todd Kaplan

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PepsiCo LIFEWTR women artists series 2

With its bold and colorful packaging, LIFEWTR emerged last year as a different kind of brand even before PepsiCo officially launched it with a Super Bowl ad with John Legend this year.

From the outset, LIFEWTR pitched itself not only as a distinctive line of premium waters but as a marque with a vital altruistic interest in showcasing and promoting art.

While its launch series of labels celebrated art by “emerging artists in the public art space,” Series 2 is a platform for showcasing art by women.

The inspiration: “51% of today’s visual artists are women, yet their work makes up less than 5% of permanent collections. That’s why for series 2, Women in Art, we’re celebrating their perspectives by creating more spaces for more works of #ArtByAWoman.”

PepsiCo LIFEWTR series 2 women artists

And what a platform—20 million of its “Series 2” bottles are available on store shelves this summer, featuring designs by a trio of artists—Trudy Benson, Lynnie Z and Adrienne Gaither—who are celebrated in mini-documentaries about their LIFEWTR artistic designs and the project.

To support the release, PepsiCo has been busy. Its #ArtByAWoman video kicked off with the LIFEWTR Open Gallery for Women Artists at New York’s Lincoln Center Plaza on June 28.

In addition to the exhibition and performance, the #ArtByAWoman video highlights the disproportionately small representation that women artists receive and the inspiration that can come when more art by women is highlighted. So PepsiCo is seizing the opportunity.

The exhibition inspired an open invitation for other women artists to share their art by using the #ArtByAWoman hashtag for a chance to be featured on the brand’s Instagram feed.

LIFEWTR also brought Elena Soboleva and JiaJia Fei together to discuss the importance of promoting #ArtByAWoman.

Todd Kaplan - PepsiCo vice president hydration“So much of this brand is driven by packaging because we’re putting art directly on the label to engage consumers on a day to day level and inspire them in their everyday lives,” Todd Kaplan (right), vice president of PepsiCo’s North America beverage waters portfolio, told brandchannel.

The unique branding strategy helps PepsiCo stand out in a premium water category which is dominated by Coca-Cola’s Smartwater, which controls 45 percent of the US market by volume, according to Beverage Digest.

LIFEWTR is pH-balanced with electrolytes, appealing to millions of consumers who are looking for another healthy beverage alternative or are abandoning carbonated soft drinks such as Pepsi and Diet Pepsi.

PepsiCo sees growth in better-for-you beverages as its future and has promised that at least two-thirds of its global beverage portfolio volume would have 100 calories or fewer from added sugars per 12-ounce serving—like LIFEWTR.

Kaplan discussed the launch of LIFEWTR’s Series 2 and how the brand fits into PepsiCo’s overall strategy:

How is the launch of LIFEWTR going?

We launched LIFEWTR in one of biggest events of the year. Feedback from retailers and consumers has been positive. It’s on track to generate about $200 million in retail sales on an annualized basis. We’re feeling really good about it.

You’ve done a great job of making the packaging distinctive. Are you confident that consumers understand the beverage itself and why they should choose it?

Consumers are excited about our brand purpose, which is to advance and showcase the sources of creativity and inspiration. It has been rewarding to work with six talented artists to-date who all have a very unique style, perspective and message to share with the world. We’re fortunate to be able to continue to champion these artists to further help their careers and also inspire consumers in their daily lives. As with all the series we have, we hope consumers will continue to be inspired by the product.

NOW!! Screening in Time square While 51% of working visual artists today are women, their work makes up less than 5% of major permanent collections. A few weeks back, I curated the “Open Gallery for Women Artists” at Lincoln Center to bring attention to this important issue facing women in art, sponsored by LIFEWTR. It was an amazing day with hundreds of supporters and participants joining us by our side. To further provoke awareness and rally our supporters, we have now released the #ArtByAWoman film and social movement, that you can see and share here  Check the link in my bio. We hope to shine a big spotlight on the disproportionately low percentage of women-created art on display in the world’s museums and art galleries. The film and social activation work are a part of an effort to rally women artists together to go beyond museum walls to make a collective statement by sharing their art in the open via #ArtByAWoman We did it @thevirginartiste @Magdalenedavis

A post shared by thegiftny@gmail.com (@delphinediallo) on

What more can you tell us about the corporate citizenship and local activation pieces of Series 2?

There were a number of elements that made up Series 2. The starting point is the 20 million bottles on shelves that highlight these three exceptional women artists. Beyond that, we created an Open Gallery Exhibit at Lincoln Center and a short film which transcends museum walls to showcase the disproportionate representation that women artists receive. The #ArtByAWoman film captures the reactions of real people when they get wind of the statistic and the inspiration that can come when more women’s artwork is brought into the world.

How does LIFEWTR fit into PepsiCo’s overall offering of water brands?

PepsiCo has a great water portfolio with a range of brands including Aquafina and Propel. We’re encouraged by the continued strength of our water portfolio. We’re the number one contributor to growth in water category so far this year and have a great brand in Aquafina that became the biggest national brand in mainstream water (source: IRI). And with Aquafina we recently expanded that brand into sparkling water… because we thought it was important to meet consumer demand with more zero calories and zero sugar with Aquafina sparkling water options.

So what’s in store for Series 3 of LIFEWTR?

We haven’t announced that yet, but the idea of this brand is to have multiple series a year and to drive it with a cultural anchor to showcase various forms of art on our bottles. Art on the package is a foundational piece of the brand.


Get more branding insights in our Q&A series. Suggest a Q&A: editor@brandchannel.com.

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