NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Pepsi is putting its Super Bowl ad dollars to work by helping communities and bypassing TV spots in the game. Coca-Cola is doing the same -- but using its Super Bowl advertising as a hook.
During a press event at the Dunlevy Milbank Boys & Girls Club in Harlem, Coca-Cola detailed plans to donate up to $500,000 to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, with half of the money raised through a Facebook program linked to the Super Bowl. Beginning today, Coke will donate $1 for every bottle of Coke that is virtually gifted on Facebook, and, as an incentive to give the gifts, users will be treated to a 20-second preview of one of the brand's Super Bowl spots. The gift givers will also receive the full 60-second spots at noon the day of the big game, giving them a rare advance preview of the notoriously cagey brand's Super Bowl spots.
The Facebook program, a first of its kind, will be an experiment in capitalizing on major TV events, said Katie Bayne, chief marketing officer at Coca-Cola North America. And, if it's successful, consumers may see more of the same. "It's exciting to see when you let go of the brand and let other people play with it what can happen," she said. "It's doing good on the way to doing great advertising. And that's a great place to be."
Ms. Bayne said that plans to benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, as well as other organizations through cash matching and My Coke Rewards points-matching efforts at livepositively.com, were in place well before Pepsi announced it would put its focus behind the Refresh Everything Project. The Facebook effort, however, was developed late last year.
This is not the first time the rivals have rolled out similar messaging just before the Super Bowl. Last year, the cola giants unveiled ad messages of optimism.
"[Benefiting worthy organizations] has been a part of our company for 120 years, and it will never stop being a part of our company," she said. "We're thrilled Pepsi is in the game. We think being responsible in the communities we do business in is important."
As for the other game -- the one that Pepsi is bowing out of -- Ms. Bayne called its rival's decision a "marketing and media choice," while unable to resist a subtle dig at its competitor. "They said they didn't have the kind of expression of what they wanted to do that would fit in a 30-second commercial," Ms. Bayne said. "By being more flexible and understanding some of the ways that consumers are using different media, we found a way to bring it all together."
Coca-Cola has plans for two 60-second spots, both of which use the "Open Happiness" theme. One will run during the first quarter and one during the third quarter. Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore. created both spots.
In one, "Sleepwalker," a man leaves his tent and sleepwalks in Africa. He encounters an elephant, a hippo and other animals on his way to find a Coke. The other spot, "Hard Times," features characters from "The Simpsons." Billionaire Montgomery Burns has gone bankrupt and his belongings are snapped up by other characters in a yard-sale-type event. He ultimately learns to enjoy the simpler things, like a Coke. In addition to the two spots, Coca-Cola has two bumpers during the game, one of which will be used to promote the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and the other to promote the American Red Cross' efforts in Haiti.
The company also plans to run a third spot during the pre-game show. That 30-second spot will be for the Sprite brand and will be the first from new agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty. The agency won the account almost a year ago after a shootout with Wieden & Kennedy. The ad will be rolled out globally, according to a spokeswoman. It will be the first major ad effort behind the lemon-lime soda since the "Sublymonal" campaign from Crispin Porter & Bogusky almost three years ago.