A Refreshing look at Pepsi's Refresh Everything Campaign

February 2010

Each year Pepsi spends about $30 Million on their campaigns during the annual Super Bowl festival of advertising. However this year Pepsi decided to fund a number community renewal events across the U.S. instead of advertising during the Super Bowl. (See GigaOm - Pepsi Has Already Won By Avoiding the Super Bowl)

The marketing exercise is called "Refresh Everything" and it's costing $20 million. Today it boasts a Facebook page with over 400,000 fans.

Putting the press coverage that the program has received aside for the moment let's put this campaign into some perspective as an advertising and marketing strategy.

If Pepsi had stayed with the Super Bowl they would have reached over 106.5 million people (perhaps as high 153.4 Million) at an average cost of $0.28 per Football Fan.

Instead Pepsi now has 400,000+ Facebook Fans acquired at a cost of just under $50.oo each.

I doubt if Pepsi will be counting on Facebook fans as the sole measure of the performance of the campaign. But I do believe these Virtual Fans of the "Crowd Sourcing" campaign provides us with some insight into the relative cost vs. effectiveness of social media.

Update - Feruary 2011

The Pepsi Refresh campaign was 6th in the 9 Creative Social Good Campaigns Worth Recognizing in 2010 posted by Mashable.

The media subsequently reported that more than 61 million votes wrere cast and the site has received more than 17 million unique visitors and 1.6 million online comments in 2010. However the campaign's social success has not been reflected in consumer buying habits. The Atlantic Journal's Business page reports that Pepsi sales fell 9.8 percent in the first nine months of 2010.

The Soft Drink Giant has now dropped to number 3 in the Cola Wars.

This news provides with some new metrics of how the 20 Million + social media campaign has worked out.

  • $1.17 per Unique.
  • $0.33 per vote

The campaign provides us with some idea of just how much it costs to buy an audience and just how sticky that audience can be. Compete puts the average monthly traffic of the site at around the 1 Million mark after the first 2 months of promotions. However there has been a 40% decline in traffic over the past 3 months.

Almost 12 months on the campaign still looks expensive compared to putting ads on the TV and that's probably why it comes as no surprise to discover that Pepsi will be back advertising at the Super Bowl in February.

Having said that Pepsi is committed to continuing the program in 2011 and is looking to take it international. Primarily one suspects because the Refresh campaign continues to attract the volume of PR and column inches that advertising just can't buy.

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