Entertainment A-List 2010

Entertainment A-List No. 6: Pepsi

Change in Approach to Marketing Pays Off for Pepsi, Mtn Dew, Izze

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- PepsiCo Beverages Americas is a force in the branded-entertainment space, with major brands such as Pepsi and Mtn Dew, as well as smaller players like Izze, making waves. But that wasn't always the case. Frank Cooper, chief consumer engagement officer, said the division's embrace of entertainment has been "sporadic" in the past five years. But, in recent years, he says the approach has been more disciplined. The creation of the position he now holds last November affirms that.

Frank Cooper
Frank Cooper

"It's a reflection of our changing approach to marketing," he said of his role. "When we talk about engaging consumers, we're really looking at what are their underlying values, what are they passionate about? Entertainment inevitably pops up. We're thinking about how to approach entertainment as less of a sponsor and more of a creator."

To that end, Mr. Cooper said the company is beginning to view entertainment, in a broad sense, as a new potential revenue stream. For example, Pepsi intends to monetize "Yo Sumo," the documentary created in partnership with Eva Longoria Parker and based on stories posted to pepsiyosumo.com. Mr. Cooper says the brand will monetize it through network licensing and a grassroots tour.

BY THE NUMBERS
80%
Share of the citrus soda market held by Mtn Dew, despite slashing its traditional media budget in half from over the course of a two-year period from 2006 to 2008.
71%
Percentage of positive sentiment during the first week of Pepsi Refresh Project's launch, according to Viralheat
"If you're creating content that's engaging and [consumers] find value in it, there's no reason not to look at that as a potential revenue stream," he said. "You'll see a lot more where we're becoming a critical part of the creation process."

Already, brands like Mtn Dew have taken the reins with content creation. The brand has taken on several interesting entertainment projects though its Green Label Sound and Green Label Studios ventures. For example, last fall, Mtn Dew's Green Label Studios teamed up with Paramount Digital Entertainment to produce "Circle of Eight," a supernatural thriller that was available on MySpace. Likewise, Pepsi was a "founding partner" of the "If I Can Dream" series that launched earlier this year on Hulu.

Pepsi also grabbed headlines last year for its involvement with NBC's "Saturday Night Live." And it teamed up with CBS to create a video ad that ran in Entertainment Weekly, promoting Pepsi Max and the network's Monday lineup with "Monday to the Max." Even smaller brands have been looking to entertainment, with Izze finding its way into the hands of "Grey's Anatomy" character Izzie Stevens last spring via a small product-placement company.

But, Mr. Cooper admitted, the most challenging thing to do, when it comes to the company's entertainment-related marketing, is measure success. He said the company has used some traditional measurements, such as tracking impressions, word-of-mouth and earned media, but he would like to go beyond that. "What I'd love to get to, but we haven't gotten to yet, is cultural impact. How does it actually transform how consumers perceive the brand?" he said. "Some of the activity is not designed to have an immediate impact on existing product sales. Some of the activity is designed to get people closer to the brand itself."

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