Posted by Barry Silverstein on May 27, 2010 01:00 PM
Even as Coca-Cola mixes up new ways to continue its domination of the soft drink market, Pepsi is pursuing a whole new way of marketing its brand via social media and consumer empowerment.
Speaking at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference this week in New York, Frank Cooper, Pepsi's chief consumer engagement officer, said "We want to become a catalyst in the culture rather than act like a big brand announcing something."
Indeed, with a title like "chief consumer engagement officer," Cooper is himself empowered to drive the soft drink giant into new territory. It also helps that Pepsi skipped the Super Bowl this year, instead allocating $20 million to engage consumers through digital campaigns.
Writing in the Huffington Post, Cooper discusses its two primary consumer engagement initiatives this year, Mountain Dew's DEWmocracy and the Pepsi Refresh Project. Both efforts, he feels, "demonstrate how an open brand culture that empowers the most loyal consumers to make brand decisions deepens the connection between consumers and the brand."
The Mountain Dew DEWmocracy initiative involved giving consumers the power to lead product innovation. Through a video game, consumers were encouraged to create the next Mountain Dew product. The campaign resulted in the creation of Mountain Dew Voltage which, says Cooper, was "one of the most successful product launches in PepsiCo beverage history." A follow-up campaign launched last year, DEWmocracy 2, has generated an increase from 150,000 to more than 860,000 Facebook friends.
The Pepsi Refresh Project was designed to give consumers the opportunity "to play a central role in developing and promoting ideas that they believed would move the world forward," says Cooper. "We set aside over $20 million to fund ideas created by everyday people who want to make a positive impact on their communities." Cooper says the project has generated over three million unique visitors and 16 million votes on the website.
Cooper believes both DEWmocracy and the Pepsi Refresh Project show that the brand can "serve as a catalyst or facilitator within cultural groups." The central idea of Pepsi's new initiatives is to "harness the power of your consumer base and allow them to lead in brand decision making."
Heady stuff for a soft drink company, but just what Pepsi needs to fulfill its promise of being "the voice of a generation."