Blog Like the Big Brands: Pepsi

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Happy Labor Day! When it comes to blog writing innovations, Pepsi truly leaves no stone unturned. The soda giant has dozens of imprints and even its own snack maker, Frito Lay. As such, Pepsi has tons of blogs to reflect all of the facets of this multi-billion-dollar company. But little guys can learn a thing or two about blog marketing by taking a peek at Pepsi’s Live for Now blog.

Introduced in April, Live for Now is corporate blogging gone totally social. Hip, clever and filled with pop culture, Live for Now looks to bridge the gap between the entertainment world and the soda universe. (Mission accomplished.) Looking at recent entries on Live for Now, we noticed how Pepsi brilliantly takes news items of the day from the world of popular culture and ties them in with Pepsi’s branding. Blogging about up-to-the-minute stuff is always a great way to drive more traffic, but Pepsi takes it a step further. Live for Now encourages and almost demands that visitors take part in the conversation. Plugged into Twitter, Pepsi’s YouTube channel and Facebook, Pepsi is very social and wants its visitors to be the same way. Live for Now is a dynamic format that might change the way we engage with brands and blogs. By using multi-media and social media mixed with branded blogging, Pepsi has seamlessly integrated the platforms and come up with its own super hybrid.

But anybody can take a swig of Pepsi’s social soda without having the company’s big bucks. Brands that blog should really consider taking even the tiniest of baby steps to get readers to interact with them on social media. Widgets, links and buttons can be simply slapped on your blog to let people know your company is indeed social. And why stop there? Your blog should also talk about social media and drive readers over to your respective social media pages, too. Blogging briefly about your Facebook happenings, Twitter shenanigans and Pinterest presence is a good way for your blog to keep social even without a soda giant’s budget.

Controversial ads aside, the Super Bowl could use a makeover

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The Super Bowl is still five days away but the buzz around banned ads and controversial commercials continues. Last week’s ManCrunch.com ad was axed by CBS amongst cries of homophobia and discrimination. And then there’s the Focus on the Family commercial that features college football star Tim Tebow .  Naturally,  it wouldn’t be the Super Bowl without a totally disgusting misogynistic Godaddy.com that was deemed too hot for TV. The most recent advertising reject is cellphone provider KGB’s raunchy advertisement featuring a man who’s head literally goes up his backside.

All of this hoopla, while it makes for decent headlines, seems to be a cry for attention for a major event that could use a creative overall. The 2009 telecast was down in viewers compared to 2008’s record breaking numbers.  This year’s network CBS won’t likely be stirring up any Janet Jackson-like controversy as aging rockers The Who headline the halftime show. Younger viewers will be wondering “the who?” as older viewers may confuse the band’s more

When Pepsi Abandons Traditional Marketing, It’s Time To Take Notice

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coke-v-pepsi

Pepsi is not only abandoning traditional marketing, it is abandoning a 23 year old tradition of Super Bowl advertising and replacing it with social media marketing. The tens of millions of dollars spent on Super Bowl advertising will certainly buy a lot of social media marketing – the question is, will it be a smart move? I think it will and here’s why.

The Super Bowl is a one dimensional market when it comes to geographic location and that dimension is the US market. Pepsi has a strong presence in the US, so the time is probably right to look at other markets where their presence is not so strong. It is also worth pointing out that they will get plenty of mileage in the US by simply making this announcement.

Geographical regions such as Europe and Asia (particularly China) are huge and Pepsi doesn’t have a large following in these regions. China, in particular, is interesting given the huge penetration made by Coke; this may provide a clue to Pepsi’s thinking. China is also one of the largest users of social media. So if asked how Pepsi could make an impact in China – the answer may be through social media marketing.

There are many other advantages, of course. Television advertising is very much a one shot wonder – even the Super Bowl. It needs to be followed up with newspaper, billboard and in-store marketing. Social media marketing is a long term strategy that will continue to produce results down the road. They will still need the follow-up marketing, however the total cost will be far lower. This means they can repeat the exercise across several geographical regions and still spend less than their current Super Bowl outlay.

Pepsi is not the first to realize the power of social media marketing. Pepsi is probably one of the biggest in terms of dollars spent on TV advertising. What will be interesting to follow is whether or not Coke will respond in a similar way and what sort of influence this will have on other businesses that have been considering social media marketing. When the big boys decide to change the rules of the game, you know it’s time to take notice.

You got your digital in my print.

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Contrary to the phrase coined by Marshall McLuhan in the 1960’s, the medium is no longer the message. Take print for example, the once holy grail of advertisers is once again becoming a vehicle to deliver advertising to the masses but not in the form of ink. According to The Gaurdian,  Entertainment Weekly magazine is about to debut two video-in-print advertisements in the September issue of the publication for subscribers in the Los Angeles and New York areas. These auto-play videos will come in the form of tiny cell screens that will display short clips when the magazine is open to that page; similar to greeting cards that play a tune when you open them. Advertisers CBS and Pepsi will promote various products in the micro-video ads and are hoping to target their messages to people who enjoy getting their entertainment information from print. But are they going too far? Clearly the novelty of the medium can be a good thing and to be honest, I can’t wait to get my issue in the mail. But the message in these videos had better be pretty entertaining for readers like me not to get annoyed that advertisers snuck in a video in their favorite magazine. Recently I had the pleasure of going to AMC theaters to watch “Inglorious Basterds” and was not shocked to see television commercials being played before the movie previews. The first one was for Starburst and I have to admit, it was entertaining and funny, so I gave them a hearty thumbs up. The next two were pretty lame, which led me to direct my displeasure at both AMC and the advertisers. I say if you’re going to shove advertisements in front of unsuspecting faces, you’d better at least give your audience something more than a sales pitch. But I suspect that television commercials running before movie trailers will become the norm unless people start to complain about them, or ignore them. In regard to the micro-videos, Clickz says this may be a moment in history akin to the old VW lemon ad that supposedly marked a change in how advertising agencies got their message across to the masses. According to Clickz,  “We can start sprinkling interactive experiences all over the place.” I say, please don’t! We already have enough “sprinkling” of advertising out there. In fact, so much so sometimes I even step in it. Outdoor media companies like Clearchannel and CBS have a networks of digital billboards all over Los Angeles. Drivers and pedestrians rubberneck to see the scrolling ads that flash full color messages even in the light of day. Digital billboards are not new, but they are novel. Now, you can expect to see a proliferation of next-generation media coming at a (fill in the blank) near you. Will this mark a new era of in-your-face advertising? Or will it be accepted as the norm as advertisers continue to find innovative ways to get advertising messages in front of you? I believe it will depend not on the vehicles (billboards, in-print videos, etc.) but on how entertaining or interesting the ads are and if viewers get some kind of value out of them. Will advertisers give viewers something to ignore, or will they offer up something of interest? If advertisers want to continue their conquest of innovative media, I would suggest they focus on the latter.