By Michele Weisman PepsiCo made headlines when they decided to walk away from spending $20 million on television spots for Pepsi during last year’s Super Bowl. Instead, PepsiCo decided to allocate the money into a monthly online contest, where people submit ideas both big and small for ways to refresh their communities. Dubbed the Pepsi Refresh Project (PRP), it has received more than 76 million votes and has funded various initiatives including the installation of 159 iPods/smart-boards in classrooms, the improvement of 26 parks, and the donation of $1.3 million towards ideas that refreshed the Gulf.
This year, Pepsi is revamping the program with a more democratic and optimistic focus. Pepsi is getting rid of the project’s biggest $250,000 grant category and limiting the number of causes to 5 (down from 10) for which voters could cast ballots for each day. Starting in April, Pepsi will fund additional ideas to refresh social good. The project has added categories including Arts & Music, Education, and Communities and has eliminated environment and health. A new rotating category called the Pepsi Challenge will be featured every three months. The PRP plans to expand to new countries, such as China and Latin America, giving even more people the opportunity to improve their communities. Social media is making the world feel smaller and more connected than ever. Pepsi is taking advantage of the opportunity to reach all ends of the globe to spread social good. Let’s take a look at the PRP and see its social media impact.
On Facebook, likers show their support and receive the latest updates on the PRP on three PepsiCo pages-- Pepsi, Diet Pepsi and Pepsi Max. The PRP application allows users to vote directly from the Pepsi Facebook page. Last year, nearly 19% of votes were made through Facebook. In February 2010, users were able to watch Pepsi Refresh Everything through Great Ideas Brainstorm live from New York City via Ustream and submit questions in real time via Facebook and Twitter. In August and September, PepsiCo researchers conducted in-depth surveys of their Facebook fans. During four consecutive weeks, PepsiCo fans were able to give feedback on what had worked and not worked during the PRP’s first year.
On Twitter, participants engage with @Pepsi to ask questions and receive tips regarding the PRP. Tweeters are urged to spread the word of their favorite project and vote for ideas by using the #PepsiRefresh hashtag. Pepsi maintains their brand image by listening and responding to their followers. @Pepsi has become the customer service hub of the PRP.
Everyday, more brands are realizing the importance of having a corporate blog in our socially active, online world. The PRP Blog is no exception, providing participants with refreshed content. Posts are separated into six categories and provide their readers with the latest news and events, vote-worthy ideas, and funded ideas that are already achieving success. Despite the PRP being on hiatus until April, The Refresh Blog is updated daily and engages with its community. PepsiCo is positioned as a thought leader in social good.
The PRP YouTube channel is another outlet for generating conversations about the project and ultimately developing community engagement. With over 8 million total uploaded views, participants are able to showcase their refresh ideas via YouTube. These authentic videos are filled with passionate and dedicated participants willing to making their community a better place.
How do you plan to refresh your community through the Pepsi Refresh Project? What has the Pepsi Refresh Project taught you about social good? Share your thoughts in the comments!