User-generated content and social networking collide at ThisIsTheBeginning.com, where users from around the world can gather in real-time to collectively design the next Pepsi billboard in Times Square. The site features a webcam feed of the famous NYC hub that dissolves into a virtual canvas, where visitors can add a variety of stencils and colors to the constantly evolving masterpiece. "The top technical challenges were incorporating the different video and Flash elements to create a canvas where users can be online together and creating something together at the same time," says Smith. "That, and providing the ability to change the colors and resize, flip and rotate the stencils, all while allowing it to be done from proximities of London, Des Moines, California and so on." One canvas from the site will be chosen at random to appear as an actual billboard in Times Square in April.
In the meantime, more sites are on the horizon, including "Move the Crowd," a music-oriented experience in conjunction with Pepsi's DJ Division program that will put users center stage as virtual DJs. "The screen opens up to video of a crowd waiting for the user to start spinning," says Smith. "Each key is a different beat, and it's up to the user to discover what the beats are and how that makes the crowd react. And coming soon, look for the next experience to focus on car culture—we've partnered with DUB Magazine to create an extremely robust application where users will be able to create their own rims." As each new site goes live, look for more information to be added to the corresponding can at PepsiGallery.com.