Refresh Everything

Published on January 12th, 2010 | by

It’s been a number of years since we have seen any initiative lead by a power brand in the arena of corporate social responsibility. This Wednesday, Pepsi launches one of the biggest corporate social responsibility efforts that we’ve seen since the launch of (RED) in 2006 with the Pepsi Refresh Project.

Good CSR takes strategic development and an early glimpse tells us that Pepsi has hit a home run.  Why?  Here’s ten reasons Pepsi looks to have gotten it right.

  1. Brilliant name leveraging what Pepsi is and what the initiative suggests (an innovative, short term experiment).  It creates expectations for the new and unthinkable.  It allows for evolution of concept.  It feels lively and substantial all at the same time.
  2. Beautifully executed.  The allure of the web site demonstrates this was no Q4 afterthought.  Great colors, great graphics, modern, polished and very navigable.
  3. Simple. They’ve managed to take a rather complex process and reduce it to content that makes sense and leaves you without questions.  Make no mistake, this is really hard to do.
  4. Momentum builder.  This isn’t a one-time effort.  They have invested US $20 million to support this initiative over the course of 12 months.  This will create visibility for the brand and will generate hype for the process, the brand and the winning organizations, well beyond campaign time.
  5. Understated. Pepsi is doing this instead of a Super Bowl ad spend.  Do they fall all over themselves telling you that?  No, they focus on the opportunity.  That’s finesse. Confidence. Leadership.
  6. Scope. This isn’t simply focused on an area where you’d expect Pepsi to focus their CSR efforts.  Going beyond water and community issues, the Pepsi Refresh Project paves the way for six different avenues of social impact.  Your issues. Your ideas. Your choice.
  7. Smart messaging. Consumers are inherently optimistic and respond to positive messages.  Yet we are living in difficult times and marketers need to be careful.  With “Refresh Everything”, Pepsi manages to communicate a uniquely appropriate brand and product message that aligns with a believable promotional effort that is spot-on relevant.
  8. Digital advocacy. Presented online, promoted online, managed online – this campaign will be endlessly sticky with infininte opportunities for leveraging social media.  Participants will be given the tools to promote it.  There is transparent tracking.  This campaign marries the best of social media and entrepreneurial advocacy.
  9. Urgency.  It is not one giant long-running campaign.  It is twelve individual months of contests.  There is a stopwatch on the main page that is counting down to launch, to enter, and to vote.  And grant winners will receive their funding in an astounding four weeks from each month’s announcement of winners.  Pepsi means business!
  10. Appeal.  This isn’t drippy do-goodersim.  This is about Pepsi as the facilitator of actionable ideas.  This is about the consumer using Pepsi as the platform.  This is relationship building and brand leverage at its best.


About the Author

Kelli Peterson is a brand and communications strategist with 20 years of professional experience in the corporate and non-profit world. Kelli is the founder of The Change Project, a collaborative consultancy focused on creating value and positive social impact through the power of brand. Kelli is a sometimes blogger, an avid world traveler and passionate about creating change.
  • Keli,
    I blogged about this recently and agree that it has the potential to be a great social media campaign. They’ve apparently had some stumbles coming out of the gate, so it will be interesting to see if they’re able to execute on a great idea.

    My one question is around your point on scope. It seems that companies typically do better with CSR efforts that are in their traditional scope. Do you see this broadened scope making things more difficult for Pepsi to execute?

    Thanks for the thoughts.

  • Keli,
    I blogged about this recently and agree that it has the potential to be a great social media campaign. They’ve apparently had some stumbles coming out of the gate, so it will be interesting to see if they’re able to execute on a great idea.

    My one question is around your point on scope. It seems that companies typically do better with CSR efforts that are in their traditional scope. Do you see this broadened scope making things more difficult for Pepsi to execute?

    Thanks for the thoughts.