Pepsi has been a dominant player in the soft drink market for decades, and the company’s success can be attributed to its innovative marketing strategies, including being one of the very few FMCG companies that have its own Hispanic Business which brings in over US $2 billion a year. Portada spoke with Antonio Escalona, PepsiCo Senior Vice President & General Manager of the Hispanic Business Unit, to gain insights into how PepsiCo Juntos Crecemos initiative ties into the overall Pepsi marketing strategy.
Antonio Escalona is the SVP and general manager of the Hispanic business unit for PepsiCo Foods North America and responsible for an end-to-end focus from supply chain to innovation, marketing, and sales of brands such as Gamesa and Sabritas. Similarly, Esperanza Teasdale, Vice President & General Manager, Multicultural Business Unit, at PepsiCo leads Hispanic Business Unit for PepsiCo Beverages North America.
According to Escalona, Pepsi’s brand purpose is to create unique brand experiences that generate growth for its partners and communities. In 2020, Pepsi CEO Ramon Laguarta launched the Racial Equality Journey (REJ) Initiative, which is investing more than US $570 million over five years to increase Black and Hispanic representation at PepsiCo and in its partnerships and supply chain. As part of its Racial Equality Journey Hispanic Initiative, PepsiCo launched the multi-faceted Juntos Crecemos US $ 50 million platform in August 2021 aimed at strengthening Hispanic-owned restaurants, bodegas and carnicerías (meat markets), to address foundational business challenges, and support business growth.
We create word of mouth with every sip and every bite of our products but also with support to partners.
With Super Bowl LVII’s massive appeal, PepsiCo Juntos Crecemos looked to support local Hispanic-owned businesses during this crucial moment to maximize their revenue and make a positive impact on their businesses. Ten days ago, Phoenix was flooded with football fans arriving for Super Bowl LVII, and Hispanic actor, producer, and activist Wilmer Valderrama teamed up with PepsiCo Juntos Crecemos to give a much-needed economic boost to Phoenix-based Hispanic-owned small businesses. Phoenix Coqui is one of five Phoenix-area Hispanic-owned businesses to receive a US $10,000 check to support their Super Bowl LVII planning and preparation efforts, courtesy of PepsiCo Juntos Crecemos. Other businesses to receive a check include Carnicería México, Imelda Happy Tamales, and Tacos Tijuana. Additionally, businesses received free business-building services through the PepsiCo Juntos Crecemos Hispanic Digital & Delivery Program to help create a viable digital presence to access more customers, an additional value of more than US $12,000. According to Escalona, some of these businesses “have already been working on it for several weeks and see more traffic online and in-person.” Pepsi also helps these companies with other marketing objectives like SEO.
Asked how Pepsi’s recent Pepsi and Frito Lay Super Bowl ads relate to the company’s Hispanic initiative, Escalona notes that while there may not be a direct link, “for the most part advertising is positive and links to the mission of bringing more smiles and positive news to customers.”
Advertising is positive and links to the mission of bringing more smiles and positive news to customers.
Pepsi Marketing Strategy: DEI and Investment in Minority-Owned Media
While overall corporate America has media expenditure targets in minority-owned marketing service providers of between 1% and 5% of marketing budgets, for PepsiCo’s Hispanic Business unit that ratio is much higher. Escalona emphasizes that the Hispanic Business Unit primarily focuses on Hispanic audiences and employees, and they are ahead of the game regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) objectives. He adds that Pepsi is committed to investing in minority-owned media and targeting minority audiences to ensure inclusivity and equity.
Designed to Unlock Hispanic Business Growth
Escalona asserts that growth in business is a top priority for PepsiCo, and the Juntos Crecemos initiative is designed to help unlock growth for Hispanic-owned businesses. He adds that Pepsi’s brand health and perception are measured by the Pepsi marketing strategy team at the beginning and end of the Juntos Crecemos program. The support provided is not solely focused on selling Pepsico products. “The impact goes way beyond Pepsi products, as food is the lion’s share of the businesses supported”, Escalona concludes.