By now we all know that Pepsi Refresh is a success story. With 8 billion impressions, 60 million votes and $14.6 million donated to fund 352 ideas, the program highlights consumers’ desire for corporate social responsibility and the use of a digital platform to fulfill it. Refresh proves that a brand is rewarded if it finds innovative ways to reward its community.
Recently, the Ad Council had the pleasure of talking with Bonin Bough, Global Director of Digital and Social Media at PepsiCo. He gave us insights into the Pepsi Refresh program, how they made it happen, its successes, challenges and its future at PepsiCo.
“PepsiCo is shifting from impressions to connections; we plan to build audiences to talk to over time.” Bonin said about the new company vision. He told the story of how Pepsi Refresh came to be, how it wasn’t just about gathering up senior management buy-in but weaving the vision and attributes of a digital program, like Refresh, throughout the entire company.
“We sent everybody to SXSW Interactive and other premier interactive events – this was not just about our digital team,” Bonin added. He also talked about how exactly he sold the top by proving social media power, “we challenged existing realities, compared ads to the social media channels and lined up the results.”
Once everyone was ready for Refresh, Bonin set up a team they call Mission Control — a room in the center of PepsiCo filled with staff members from various departments (research, measurement, digital, PR, and Accounts). Mission Control keeps in close communication about Refresh and is equipped to gather real-time insights and ensure real-time participation in the community. And the work just keeps coming; the team of 20 full time staffers makes their way through 1,000 submissions a month from “funded ideas” hopefuls.
In addition to the Mission Control team, Refresh has called on many partners to help. They crowd sourced the technology for the Refresh platform, ad agency TBWA Chiat executed the creative, Global Giving conducted impact studies, and Good Magazine followed up with winners on milestones and results. One of the most interesting findings of the follow-up by Good is the ability of the voters to contribute to the success and sustainability of the winning projects. “Local projects are finding added strength in the local constituents they gather from the [Pepsi Refresh] voting process,” Bonin said.
Future Refresh plans include expanding internationally, and Pepsi vows to keep the heart of this digital program as their core vision. In fact, Pepsi chose to focus on Refresh rather than participating in buying ad time during this year’s Super Bowl. By eschewing the world’s most watched event, I think this proves that Pepsi is very serious about refreshing everything.
Thanks to Bonin Bough for presenting at the Ad Council. For more of his valuable nuggets of wisdom follow him @BoughB and check out his new book (I read it, it’s amazing) Perspectives on Social Media Marketing