Monday, February 01, 2010

Crowdsourcing + Cause Marketing = Next Big Thing?

Coke is still it, still the real thing, and still the market leader.  But that pesky Pepsi is really innovating with their marketing lately.  I recently saw the TV ad for the retro Pepsi Throwback product.  You know, the "new" soda that eschews high-fructose corn syrup sweetener for real actual sugar.  Take a look:

The throwback beverage in and of itself is brilliant, given the well-deserved beating HFCS is getting these days.  And although we've seen the retro football theme before (e.g., Gatorade, Coors Light), and despite the fact that Pepsi has already played Dylan's "Forever Young" (with to good effect in other commercials, the ad is effective in its execution.  So bully for Pepsi.  

In fact, the ad above is a perfect fit for next week's Super Bowl, right?

Hold on to your helmet there, sport!  This morning I see Demi Moore (who at 47, looks impossibly good) on MSNBC telling us that Pepsi will not (repeat NOT) be advertising during the Super Bowl.  Instead, PepsiCo, which reportedly dropped $33 mil last year on the big game and had advertised there for the past 23 years, will spend $20 mil on an ongoing philanthropic campaign called Refresh Everything

This, ladies and gents, is another great example in cause marketing.  Why would Pepsi choose to punt on the Super Bowl in favor of cause marketing? 
  • Long-term impact.  In this case, trading a 30-second ad or two for a months-long campaign.
  • Good will.  Any time a big corporation "gives back," it adds to its brand equity.
  • Interactivity.  Allowing customers to vote online engages them and leverages social media.
Of course, Refresh Everything is on Facebook, Twitter, and there's an iPhone app, as is de rigueur. 

Another highly visible example of cause marketing is the Chase Community Giving Project on Facebook, where fans can vote cash (totaling $5 mil) to their favorite charities.  Closer to home here, Irving Oil recently ran its "New England Neighbor" campaign where customers could nominate local non-profits to receive grants.  But let's give credit where credit is due.  Stoneyfield Farms, a New Hampshire company, was doing this back as early as 2004!  They pick three non-profits, then let yogurt-eaters "bid with their lids" on which should win a grant from the delectable diary company.

All these are variations on a theme of crowdsourcing, i.e., letting the collective wisdom of the masses direct your initiatives.

So combine the feel-good philanthropy of cause marketing with Web 2.0-ready "Ask the Audience" style crowdsourcing, and you could have the beginnings of a major sea change in marketing over the long term.

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