Pepsi announced today it will continue its grant-based Refresh Everything campaign into 2011, as well as extend it globally into markets across Europe, Latin America and Asia, based on the success it has received already in the U.S.
The campaign encourages consumers to submit applications for grants from Pepsi, for which users can then vote on the Refresh Everything site. The most popular ideas or causes are then rewarded with a portion of a $1.3 million a month fund, financed by the company's marketing budgets.
Speaking with ClickZ, PepsiCo Beverages' head of digital, Shiv Singh, said the campaign has not only benefited grant recipients and the communities in which they lie, but has also had an "extremely positive" effect on the Pepsi brand. "It's hard to directly compare this campaign with previous ones, because we're not measuring impressions, we're measuring the impact on a community… but based on more strategic metrics like brand health, favorability, and intent to purchase, it's performed exceedingly well," he said, adding, "It's working for the communities, and it's working for us."
From a branding perspective, Singh likened the project and the RefreshEverything.com site to a media property in itself, suggesting it now attracts more unique users on a monthly basis than sites with which the brand would previously have considered purchasing display advertising. "There's always talk of brands becoming media properties, but not much proof in the pudding," he said. "In our eyes, it's a media property.
In addition to that traffic, the site has accrued a total of 7,500 applications and 42 million votes in the past 12 months. Meanwhile, the brand's "likes" on Facebook have increased from 225,000 to well over a million in that period, and its Twitter following and YouTube presence have also grown.
That success has prompted not only a continuation of the program in the U.S., but a global extension across European, Latin American, and Asian markets in 2011. Sing said details of how the campaign will be executed in local markets have not yet been finalized, but that it will build on the lessons learned from its experiences to date.
Meanwhile in the U.S., the company hopes to continue to evolve the campaign, and to further grow its audience. In the next few weeks the brand will be asking its 1 million Facebook "likers" to suggest ways to improve the project, and it seek integrations with organizations such as sporting institutions and leagues. Singh pointed to its current relationship with Major League Baseball teams – through which individual teams were invited to submit their own ideas to the project – as ways to reach and involve more consumers and communities.
Though paid media has been used to instigate and promote interaction with the project, Singh suggested the viral nature of the campaign meant paid media isn't essential for driving further awareness of it. "Some media buys helped buy awareness in the early days, but when someone submits an application they ask their whole network [on sites such as Facebook] to vote for them. That's very much the ethos of the whole campaign," he said, adding that the results of the first grants – issued in February and March of this year – should also help drive awareness of the project.
Overall, Singh said the campaign and the site show no signs of flat lining in terms of consumer interest or traffic, and that the viral effect should help it continue to grow into 2011.