Pepsi Chooses Social Media Over Super Bowl

by Jamie Turner, Chief Content Officer of the 60 Second Marketer.

Running a commercial on the Super Bowl can be expensive, just ask companies like Budweiser, GoDaddy and Coca-Cola. But when you’re reaching more than 100 million viewers, the expense often pays for itself.

Not according to Pepsi.

Last year, PepsiCo walked away from spending $20 million on television spots and put the money into online social media contest instead. It was the first time in 23 years that Pepsi decided to walk away from running ads on the Super Bowl. But the company says it was a huge success and has decided to do it again.


Pepsi has decided to by-pass the Super Bowl for the second year in a row. Costs for a 30-second spot continue to rise. (Source: Wikipedia)

According to The New York Times, more than $20 million in grants, ranging from $5,000 to $250,000 has been distributed to about 400 winners of Pepsi’s online contests. Some of these grants include $25,000 for new uniforms for the Cedar Park High School Band and another $25,000 for a new playground that opened in Las Vegas last week.

“This was using brand dollars with the belief that when you use these brand dollars to have consumers share ideas to change the world, the consumers will win, the brand will win, and the community will win. That was a big bet. No one has done it on this scale before,” Shiv Singh, head of digital for PepsiCo told The New York Times.

The paper continues by saying, “As Pepsi had hoped, competitors have turned to their personal networks on Facebook and Twitter to gain support for their ideas, extending the Pepsi brand and its do-good message. Nearly 19 percent of the 77 million votes have been cast through Facebook. On Twitter, participants were urged to use the hashtag ‘#PepsiRefresh,’ and they did.”

A recent study by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services found that figuring out how to translate social media efforts into sales and customers — and how to measure overall effectiveness — was cited as a top concern of many companies looking to expand their efforts to reach consumers using social media. More than 79% of the 2,100 companies participating in the survey said they either currently use social media channels or are preparing to start social media initiatives.

(Shameless plug: Anyone reading this article who is interested in finding the answer to the question “How can I measure the ROI of my social media campaign?” will find the answer in my book, How to Make Money with Social Media, available at fine bookstores [and a few not-so-fine bookstores] everywhere.)

What Pepsi’s No-Super-Bowl-Approach Means for You:

Is Pepsi doing the right thing here? Are Super Bowl commercials a thing of the past?

In a nutshell, both approaches can and do work. But if you’re like most businesses, you probably can’t afford to spend $3 million to run a single TV spot. So, you might consider seeing if you can get some bang for your buck by spreading the dollars around on a social media and cause-related marketing program.

That said, here are three things to consider:

  1. Cause-related marketing programs require more than just a donation to the cause. They require campaigns to make people aware of the cause-related donation. Those campaigns aren’t free. And they can backfire if not handled properly.
  2. Social media isn’t free. Despite what you may have heard, social media does require a financial investment. Some of this investment needs to be in hard, cold cash (e.g., YouTube video production, Landing Page development, etc.). There are soft-dollar investments in social media, too, such as the time and labor needed to run and manage the campaign.
  3. Don’t forget mobile media. Mobile media can be used to enhance a cause-related or social media campaign. There are six ways businesses are using mobile media to build awareness for their brands: SMS, Location-based marketing, mobile website, mobile apps, 2D codes and mobile websites. Explore each of them as your developing your program.

There are lot of different approaches you can use the Super Bowl to grow your sales and revenue. Good luck with whatever you’re doing  — be it running a TV spot, running a social media campaign or simply running to the fridge for an extra beer.


Explore posts in the same categories: Campaign, Super Bowl

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