Refreshing the Pepsi Refresh Project for 2011


As you all may know, I love it when companies, organizations, non-profits and other groups use social media to promote social good. This week, Lauren, who is a classmate in my Advertising 490 class, posted a very interesting discussion about Coca-Cola’s “Open Happiness” campaign & The Truck of Happiness. Her post made me think of the Pepsi Refresh campaign from last year, and I couldn’t help but wonder if that marketing plan would be revisited again this year. The original reasoning behind the campaign was that the $20 million which would normally go to a Super Bowl advertisement spot would instead go to communities and organizations to sponsor campaigns for social good. This year, however, Pepsi actually created Super Bowl spots.

My question was whether these Super Bowl spots, such as the one above, would reclaim the $20 million of Pepsi’s annual promotional budget. So, I did a Google search (I seriously dislike Bing!) and found lots of news from January and earlier this month relating to the recreation of the Pepsi Refresh project for 2011. Although I didn’t know about it at the time, the first Pepsi Refresh project actually faced some serious structural problems. In the early days of the campaign, there were problems with the website where you submitted your project proposals. When a person logged in to submit their project idea, they were being given another submitter’s personal information.

The issue was soon resolved and the application process wen’t pretty smoothly from there on out. Troubles for Pepsi were not over though. After all applications were in, Pepsi opened up voting for the competition. After millions of votes were counted, Pepsi named it’s winners. Winners were super excited, but Pepsi now faced cheating allegations for their voting process because certain groups created informal alliances to get people to vote for their project.

In a renewed effort, Pepsi has “refreshed” their project by tightening security measures on their application sites, having third parties measure the reliability and fairness of their voting system, and eliminating categories of high value (the $250,000 grant) or high controversy (such as the “environmental” category) to ensure that there is a much more balanced and fair disbursal of the $20 million they plan to share with communities.

Read more here…

While some question the quality of the Pepsi Refresh project from a business standpoint , I prefer to simply focus on the fact that they are doing good. Whether or not the business model is at it’s prime or the project is sustainable, that is still $20 million that was put to good use in small communities throughout the United States. We may can argue that Coca-Cola’s Live Positively campaign may be slightly more sustainable over time; however, we can also argue that the Refresh campaign is having a more direct effect on individuals in the United State.

Coca-Cola’s new Open Happiness campaign seems to be targeting the same vibe of spreading positivity and goodwill, but they are coming at it from a different angle. Three bloggers will travel around the globe in a whirlwind tour visiting different cities and writing about how Coca-Cola helps bring happiness.  According to an AdAge article, the Open Happiness campaign narrowly misses the mark of being a great promotional campaign.

In a world where there seems to be way too much negativity in the media and everything surrounding us, I feel that we should commend these two major companies for taking the initiative to support positivity and social good. Although their methods are different, both companies promote “happiness”, “positivity” and a better world. For this, I am thankful. Their motives may be driven by ROI & ROE. Regardless of their original reasons for the campaign, I still think we should support these types of campaigns because there are at least 200 “Refreshed” communities and lots more happy Coke drinkers out there!

So, what will you let Pepsi refresh in your community?