But has it buoyed sales? Refresh doesn't seem to have had a
major influence on the brand's bottom line yet, with brand Pepsi's
share falling 0.5% compared to a 0.3% decline for Coke in the first
nine months of the year, according to Beverage Digest. Yet some
bottlers say Refresh is a clear winner in terms of clout gained at
the local level, the effort's grassroots nature having given them
elevated status in their communities.
"We fight for floor space and locations in the stores, and this
year I think we're getting better locations than our competitors.
We're getting bigger displays, because [stores] are seeing that
we're giving back to the community," said Pepsi bottler Dave
Pederson, VP-soft drink sales at Bernick's Beverages and Vending in
Minnesota. "I can't tell you what percent lift it's given us, but
it's given us [an advantage]."
Moreover, Mr. Pederson said the campaign has given the bottler
something to rally around. Bernick's has plastered the Refresh
site, refresheverything.com, on as much collateral as possible,
including the back of its trucks. It has also produced hats and
T-shirts, hosted local events and promoted those vying for
Executives at Bernick's, as well as bottlers around the country,
have been interviewed repeatedly by local TV and radio stations
about Refresh grant applicants and winners. Bernick's interaction
with local media this year has easily exceeded what it would be in
a typical year, Mr. Pederson said.
Ami Irazabal, marketing director at Pepsi, said that the company
has worked with ABC on 38 local segments highlighting winners,
while NBC has aired 108 such segments. Local news stories covering
those applying for grants or winning grants are gravy.
"People have talked to their local newspaper or media to ask
them to showcase the idea, to rally the community to support them,"
Ms. Irazabal said. That's another piece of media that's completely
Not that it's all been a free ride. The company expects to spend
enough on Pepsi marketing in 2010 to exceed spending in 2009. Last
year, Pepsi spent $136 million on measured media, according to
Kantar Media. Through August of this year, the brand has spent $109
Measured media buys for this year have included TV on major
broadcast and cable networks, such as NBC, ABC, Fox, MTV, Spike and
ESPN, as well as ads in print publications like Parade and People.
There has also been out of home, extensive digital buys, and
Refresh has tapped into PepsiCo's existing relationships with the
National Football League, Major League Baseball, Nascar and Major
Angeles, is Pepsi's creative and advertising agency. Weber
Shandwick and Edelman are handling social media around Refresh
Project, and OMD is handling
media. Huge designed the Refresh Project site.
Ms. Irazabal said the number of impressions achieved through
earned media is among the highest the company has ever seen for a
campaign. In total, Refresh has garnered more than 2.8 billion
impressions from earned media through mid-October. So how does that
Pete Blackshaw, exec VP of NM Incite, a joint venture of Nielsen
& McKinsey, called Pepsi's reported earned impressions "not an
insignificant number. Relative to other viral campaigns I've
studied, that's significantly higher." But he was also careful to
point out that not all impressions are created equal. "Some would
argue that a 30-second commercial has potential to penetrate a lot
more than a quick, incidental reference on a blog post," he said.
"A good Super Bowl commercial can create massive viral multiples.
... Nationwide claimed they got $20 million in earned media
impressions off of the Kevin Federline commercial."
There appear to be plenty of impressions on the local level.
This summer, for example, Avalon Educational Institute, a community
center in Duluth, received a $25,000 grant to purchase equipment,
including balance beams and floor mats. To celebrate, Bernick's
hosted a cookout for the public, where it presented Avalon with its
check. Certainly, Bernick's has hosted community events and free
cookouts in the past, Mr. Pederson said, but they weren't typically
covered by a local radio station for nearly three hours.
Bernick's has also worked with several local organizations
seeking grants, including a local YMCA. The bottler partnered with
the city of Duluth, Minn., to produce signage that was posted
around town urging people to vote. The idea didn't garner enough
votes to get funded, but Mr. Pederson said the effort still raised
awareness both for the YMCA and for Pepsi.
"We're getting our logo out there, yes, but, more importantly
we're building partnerships in the community," he said.
Through October, $11.7 million has funded 287 ideas, hailing
from 203 cities in 42 states (see chart). More than 51 million
votes have been cast for 7,000 projects. Most of the grants have
gone to nonprofits like Avalon Educational Institute, but a
significant portion have gone to individuals, with only a small
percentage of the grants being awarded to businesses.
Refresh has also attracted consumers of all ages, with voters
ranging in age from 13 to 61-plus. Interestingly, the largest swath
of voters is between the ages of 41 and 60. Ms. Irazabal said
that's because the larger nonprofits competing for funding tend to
activate networks that include an older population. The projects
seeking smaller amounts are driven by millennials, aged 17 to 27,
who make up for the third largest group of voters, behind those
aged 28 to 40.
Next year, PepsiCo will take Refresh Project global.
Avi Dan, founder-president of marketing consultancy Avidan
Strategies, said the beauty of this kind of campaign is its
longevity. "It can pick up speed the longer it's out there and the
more people discover it for themselves," he said. "Traditional
campaigns in our culture tend to have a shorter life cycle, because
people get tired of traditional campaigns a lot faster."
What Refresh has brought Pepsi
Total earned media impressions attributed to
Refresh: 2,843,824,480 as of Oct. 13.
Online news outlets: 1,320 (2,000,961,167
Broadcast outlets: 3,032 (275,057,330
Print outlets: 695 (70,326,570
Blog posts: 1,590 (210,184,798
Tweets: 167,294 (Twitter followers reached:
$5K: 89 projects
Examples: Provide prom dresses and tuxedos to under-privileged
students, Pennies4prom; start a low-cost cat spaying and neutering
$25K: 90 projects
Examples: Use fresh produce to fight childhood obesity in Southern
Illinois schools, Belleville Farmer's Market; Form special-needs
cheerleading squads in schools across the country, The Sparkle
$50K: 89 projects
Examples: Preserve a local movie theater and revitalize our Main
Street, Rosendale Theatre Collective; Save one of the nation's
first Cub Scout camps from being shut down, Anthony DiNicola.
$250K: 19 projects
Examples: Develop an alternative cancer treatment that has no side
effects, Kanzius Cancer Research Foundation; Provide comfort items
for U.S. military troops recovering from wounds, The American
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