The Pepsi Refresh Project: A Thirst for Change

The Pepsi Refresh Project: A Thirst for Change (2011) Harvard Business School Case (Michael Norton and Jill Avery)

For the first time in 23 years, PepsiCo did not invest in Super Bowl advertising for its iconic brand in 2010. Instead, the company diverted the $20 million it would have spent on the game to the social media fueled “Pepsi Refresh Project,” where it invited consumers to generate ideas to “refresh everything” in their worlds. Ideas were vetted and posted on the web where consumers voted for their favorites which Pepsi then funded with grants ranging from $5,000 to $250,000 for health, environmental, social, educational, and cultural causes. The case analyzes how Web 2.0 is changing cause-related-marketing and compares the benefits and risks of traditional branding and social media branding. Pepsi’s return on investment is analyzed in the context of emerging brand health and social media metrics.

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