Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Marketing Memo: PepsiCo Takes A Page From President Obama's Successful Campaign For Change With its 'Refresh America' Multi-Media Marketing Campaign

Pepsi's consumer-interactive banner ad above is being featured on Web sites like Yahoo Music and Google.com's Content Network. When users click on the banner it takes then to YouTube, where they can then upload a video telling President Barack Obama what they think needs to be changed (and not changed) in America. The banner ad is part of Pepsi's "Refresh Everything" multi-media advertising campaign, which features a social media focus. The "Refresh Everything" campaign looks a whole lot like the new President's winning Presidential campaign.

Special Report: President Obama & the U.S. food industry

If you've been watching the television coverage of the U.S. Presidential Inauguration celebration of over the last few days, including today's swearing-in and related festivities for America's new 44th President, Barack Obama, you may have noticed the series of commercials running on many of the television channels from beverage and food giant PepsiCo. The ads look very much like, and use themes and words -- such as "hope" and "change" -- very similar to those the new President used throughout his successful campaign for the nation's highest office. Pepsi has even temporarily changed its iconic logo in the TV commercials to look very similar to the logo President Obama used on his signs and elsewhere throughout his nearly two-year campaign for President of the United States of America. Brand Obama equals brand Pepsi appears to be the message.

The Obama campaign-like advertising and marketing campaign being conducted by PepsiCo, the U.S.-based global food and beverage company that in addition to its huge soda pop and snack foods franchises also is a major player in the natural food and beverage segments, is specifically designed to tap into the new spirit in America based on the themes of hope and change the new President has inspired and continued to do so in his inauguration speech to America and the world. [You can view PepsiCo's brand portfolio here.]

Pepsi calls it its "Refresh Everything" campaign. It's key target audience with the campaign is the "Millennial" generation, the very same segment of young Americans who came out by the millions and donated money to, worked for, and voted for President Barack Obama.

As a part of its integrated "Refresh Everything" campaign. Change. Refresh. Renew. We get it. The campaign, which without a doubt is built around the election of the new President, includes an innovative social media effort in which Pepsi is making use of an application that lets users upload their own videos directly through an ad banner posted on various Web sites.

Pepsi calls the social media feature "Dear Mr. President." Its focus is to encourage its Millennial segment target audience to upload videos expressing their thoughts to today's incoming president on what should and shouldn't be changed about the country. In other words Pepsi is taking a page right out of the Obama Presidential campaign's Web-based effort in which throughout the campaign it used social media to ask voters that very same question. Obama campaign staffers then replied to voters in an interactive manner about the ideas they offered for America via the campaign Web site.

[Take a look at the new Whitehouse.gov Website, the site for the President of the United States of America. At noon today, at the very same time Barack Obama was sworn-in as President, the Web site was changed (dramatically) from that of the George W. Bush Administration to the Obama Administration. The site looks much different than the Bush site. In fact, the Obama Administration (and U.S. government) Presidential Web site looks very similar to the Obama Presidential campaign site, and it includes a couple interactive and social media-type functions, with more to come. If the Obama Administration can execute its policies like the team did the Web site change today -- it was changed literally seconds after the new President was inaugurated this afternoon -- the U.S. could be in for some real change in how the White House works.]

Pepsi first posted the ad banner for its "Dear Mr. President" social media/marketing campaign on Yahoo Music.com and the Google.com Content Network on Jan. 14, just a week ago. The big push has been over the last three days. The banners remain up until tomorrow. However, the "Refresh Everything" campaign and Web site continues on.

When the ad banner is clicked it takes the user directly into Pepsi's "Refresh Everything" campaign area on YouTube.com, where a "Dear Mr. President" video can be uploaded in the same way all YouTube videos are posted by users. Those users without Webcams can submit a text message instead.

The social media/ad banner campaign was created for Pepsi by the R/GA marketing agency. R/GA executive vice president and chief marketing services officer Dawn Winchester says, as far as she is aware, "this is the first time an ad banner has recorded video in this manner."

The innovative social marketing application fits the digital behavioral habits Pepsi's Millenial target audience perfectly, as well as many other consumers like those of us who are a bit older but still are social media savvy, in our analysis. We think PepsiCo is on to something very innovative and hot, both with the overall "Refresh Everything" campaign in general, but specifically with the "Dear Mr. President" social media feature using YouTube.

Natural~Specialty Foods Memo (NSFM) talked this week to a member of the Obama transition communications team who told us the President's staff is aware of the PepsiCo "Refresh Everything" campaign and the "Dear Mr. President" YouTube feature and will be taking a look at the videos posted by the users, who just happen to be voters as well.

Ms. Winchester says that while YouTube is the hub of the overall digital and social marketing campaign, consumer interaction with the Pepsi brand also is being promoted through the "Refresh Everything" campaign site, a mobile site and other social media sites. For example, she says "Refresh Everything" launched only a couple weeks ago on Facebook and already has more than 170,000 fans.

In our analysis, from a marketing standpoint Pepsi's tie-in with the themes of the victorious Obama campaign and its interactive rather than hard-sell design of the campaign makes it a winner.

Additionally, Pepsi has sponsored a number of activities around the inauguration of President Obama, including being a lead sponsor of the pre-inaugural concert and celebration at the Lincoln Memorial which honored Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on his birthday, as well as celebrated the election of America's 44th and first black President. Pepsi's sponsorship of these various activities includes substantial donations to charitable organizations.

Coke better watch out. After all, change is in the air.

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