First off, a big old disclosure that The Coca-Cola Company has been a client of mine. I should also state that I grew up in a house that drank only Coke products and for the most part besides Mountain Dew and Diet Pepsi when there is nothing else that holds true in my house today. That being said, I thought it was an interesting approach that Pepsi took to leverage the social media space and get their new logo out to the public. By now I'm sure most people have read about The Pepsi 25, but in a nutshell they sent three packages, each twenty minutes apart, to 25 online influencers. The boxes showcased the evolution of the main Pepsi logo through the years and the final box contained a six pack of the new Pepsi cans and a DVD about the brand.
I was chosen as one of the influencers and unfortunately the surprise angle didn't play out with me personally because the courier got lost or something and by the time my first box arrived I had already seen Chris Brogan and Greg Verdino posting pictures of the product so I knew what was up.
So, what did I think of the campaign?
On the good side I liked that they kept it simple. They didn't go crazy with flashy shiny things or crazy wild expensive items. An unmarked box full of empty soda cans. Doesn't get much more simple then that. The idea of having them delivered by courier and timed out was an interesting twist that I really liked. Unless that courier is sitting in your driveway and then it isn't much fun.
It was smart to send them out to people that have a tendency to take and post photos online, tweet about everything that happens in your life and that more then likely will share immediately and get the word out. I know the first thing I did was take a picture and post it to my Flickr account and then I tweeted about it. They also set up a Friendfeed room for people to share their thoughts. But, after the initial rush, will they build a community there? Only time will tell.
On the bad side, I think Pepsi blew a perfect opportunity to really connect with the people they reached out to. There was a note in the first box and a letter in the final box detailing the program. Why in the world wasn't it personalized for the people receiving them? I hate form letters in e-mail so of course I'm going to hate them in snail mail as well. This lack of a personal touch really is inexcusable in my mind. If you are going to take the time to connect with people at least take the extra few minutes to make it personal.
You know what would have been cool as well? Something to take it up a notch if they wanted to? If the final box came chilled.
After all these soda cans arrived in my office, I was craving a nice cold soda and all I had was warm Pepsi. You know what I did? I walked down the hall to the soda machine in my office which happens to be a Coke machine. Sure, it would have cost a little more, but think about it for a minute. That would have been cool! (...and did I mention that the Coke machine was out of Coke? Blargh!)
Overall I like that Pepsi did this. It is an interesting approach, but I'm curious what they do from here. Now that they know I'm a Mountain Dew addict will I get something when that new branding comes out? Next time will they look for those people online who are rabid Pepsi fans and go after them to start the conversations? How do they take their Friendfeed room and really leverage it. Will they use other social media tools as well? I know they've got some good people over there and I'm sure there is a white board somewhere with all kinds of thoughts and squiggles on it.
I know if The Advance Guard was Pepsi's agency I'd have some definite thoughts on how they could roll out their new branding initiative that is under way. People are not drinking as much soda as they use to. A fancy new logo and a new font on the can (which I don't like by the way compared to the old bolder one which I dug) is not going to sell more soda. There is a lot of potential ways they could go with this.
Influencer outreach campaigns are an interesting beast. You honestly never know what people are going to say, if they are going to say anything at all or how they will react. With all the feedback that Pepsi is getting I'm sure they realize that most of it is constructive feedback that they can take and make their future programs even better.
If Pepsi is reading, give me a call. I'd love to help you guys out next go around.