In response to the ever-increasing barrage of branded messages in our culture, many tune out entirely or have actually made the assumption that big brands are equivalent to the axis of evil or the evil empire. Now, there are cases where some big brands have had questionable or downright lousy ideas and caught flack but the fact that someone is encouraging me to like their brand or buy a product doesn’t make us adversaries. I actually do want some of the products these brands offer.
Every so often, there are some efforts that I really like that can significantly improve the brand in communities the company serves. I’ve been watching the current Pepsi Refresh Project with interest. It made a big splash when Pepsi decided to forego its traditional Super Bowl ad presence to invest $20 million into social media. As the project formally launched this week, I began to hear of ideas all across the country and I like a lot of them. I’ve seen some creative plans that could genuinely improve the lives of hundreds or thousands of people. According to Jill Beraud, CMO and president of joint ventures for PepsiCo Americas Beverages, “this is the people’s project, it’s in their hands,” and I hope that proves true.
One element I’ve seen this first week is participation and engagement from a lot of younger people, which is a wonderful trend. Each generation seeks ways to express themselves and make change in the world in a manner that fits their values, style, and ideals. With a chance to find some elusive funding like this, many bright young adults may view this as a viable way to chase their goals. Will it work for all of them? No, but some will be given the chance to try and that’s a tremendous opportunity.
I don’t know how this effort will work out. Maybe it’ll produce dramatic change through a handful of the funded programs. But, even if it doesn’t change the world, the fact that Pepsi is giving this a shot impresses me. Are they hoping for a boost to their brand and improved sales? Of course they are, but who cares. Only time will tell if this effort enhances the connection that consumers have to the brand but to write off big brands on principle and take on an “us versus them” mentality is foolish. At its best, strong brand loyalty works both ways and an effort like this one might actually benefit thousands more through the programs that are ultimately funded.
Let’s see what happens…
Disclosures- I’ve not been paid or otherwise compensated in any way by Pepsi related to this post. I have had many of their products over the years but that cuts both ways… Diet Pepsi is great but I’m still not over the trainwreck known as Crystal Pepsi.
Photo- Courtesy L. Marie via Creative Commons