Pepsi Launches Social-Viewing Platforms for 'X Factor'

Pepsi Pulse, Pepsi Sound Off Could Eventually Be Leveraged for Super Bowl, Other Events

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Pepsi has been promising viewers they'll be able to experience X Factor in ways they "never imagined." This week it will start delivering.

Pepsi Pulse and Pepsi Sound Off will provide the "X Factor" faithful a way to interact with each other and the show. It also provides Pepsi with platforms that could be used to cultivate conversations around Super Bowl or the Grammys, for example. A Pepsi spokeswoman said discussions about other uses for Pepsi Pulse and Pepsi Sound Off are ongoing, though there's nothing concrete to share at the moment.

Pepsi Pulse is a digital visualization of conversations about "X Factor." A series of checkmarks with the text "2 people agree with Simon" appear on screen, or a mass of hearts appears with the text "69 people love X Factor." Mouse over the hearts or checkmarks and tweets pop up. The concept was built out in just three weeks, said Andrea Harrison , director-PepsiCo Beverages digital engagement. She said that it's meant to be a qualitative, not a quantitative view of consumer conversations. Pepsi worked with Firstborn on the project.

Pepsi Sound Off, modeled after Twitter, is a place for fans to connect during the show and incorporates a gaming mechanism. Viewers can post comments in a stream, as well as organize streams by popular hashtags. Messages posted on Pepsi Sound Off can also be pushed to Twitter or Facebook. Pepsi is leveraging Gigya's social technology. It also worked with Undercurrent and Huge on the platform.

"Twitter or Facebook are sometimes too broad of a place to have those nonstop conversations [about a show]. A large number of friends who follow [fans] on Twitter or are their friends on Facebook couldn't care less," said Ms. Harrison . "The idea was to create a fun place where people can come to have these conversations but also some gaming elements."

Consumers can earn bottle caps to use in their updates, while comments that receive likes put consumers "in the spotlight." The most popular comments of the week will be featured in custom 15-second spots running during X Factor (those will be created with Ghost Robot and OMD Content Collective). Pepsi is hoping those spots will entice consumers to participate and drive them to the platform.

Co-viewing or social TV has been gaining steam, with Entertainment Weekly launching a platform called Viewer last month. In this case, however, the advertiser is behind the platforms, rather than a network, show or traditional media property. Ms. Harrison said that enables the brand to delve into what is exciting consumers, even if it strays beyond X Factor-specific content.

"We have a little bit of a different goal in mind than the networks do," Ms. Harrison said. "Networks are responsible for communicating content about the show. It's not my job to give out official content."

Still, Pepsi's promotion could be a boon for "X Factor," which has posted solid ratings , even as Fox under delivers in the crucial 18- to 49-year-old demographic. Ratings have also failed to meet Simon Cowell's inflated, initial expectations. But those who are watching the show are sticking with it, and they're incredibly engaged -- just the type of audience that could embrace Pepsi's new platforms.

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