Pepsi’s ‘Social’ Vending Machines #notaJoke

Anything Pepsi does would be so much better if only it was a better drink to begin with… We all know that Chuck Norris doesn’t like Pepsi, Coca-Cola it is!!! 🙂

Pepsi’s obsession with anything “Social” is fast turning from tragedy to farce and almost hit the rock bottom with their latest experiment of ‘Social’ Vending Machines.

It would have been something if at all it were “social”, I mean like if it really gave consumers a chance or a platform to connect or interact with others which is not the case here. So Pepsi’s ‘social’ vending machines are “social” only in some other sense of the word.

What it does is, allows users to buy a soda and then send a text or a video message from the vending machine, apparently enabling consumers to gift drinks to their friends and strangers.

Now how ‘Social’ is that???

I mean how it really enhances my overall experience of buying a soda from a vending machine that allows me to record and send a video, is there nothing better I possibly could have asked for? Have I been dreaming of it, always?

Next time I am thirsty and approach a Pepsi’s ‘social’ vending machine I might actually punch a 15 year old trying to record a video in front of me for delaying the whole process of me getting a Pepsi (if at all I ever want). At that point I am less brand and more product needy which gets messed up and is quite socially repelling. I mean I don’t want to be punching kids in Pepsi’s effort of going ‘Social’.

Pepsi is pulling out every cliche in I believe ‘Dummies Guide to Social Media‘ playbook to explain the nonsense. The purpose of the new vending machines is…

“…to empower consumers and create new ways for them to engage with our brands”

Yeah right! I have always felt so powerless when it came to engaging with their brands which I always wanted to do.

Now with this super capability of recording videos and sending SMS or gifting drinks to friends & strangers (because I want them dead – encourage them to slowly kill themselves via unhealthy lifestyle and diet choices), I am the new super-hero all geared up to… well, I don’t know, do that!… what you do when you’re empowered 😐

Well there is a lot of buzz around this essentially because for most of the people across world vending machine is nothing but a pay refrigerator. Now with this enhanced capability its almost like some form of mystical deity that must be wowed at… As far I can see once these machines are installed and begin to screw-up like everything else of their’s, there will be blood in the hallways 🙂

Do we learn, ever?

The Social Media as understood by Pepsi was best displayed to create the “Pepsi Refresh Project“. Pepsi Refresh was an online social media initiative in which Pepsi gave out 20 million dollars. They also spent many millions more in support of this initiative.

That was indeed the largest Social Media initiative ever undertaken for you, the consumer, to engage with Pepsi by voting for the “Refresh” projects you deemed most worthy. There were also other opportunities to engage through an enormous online effort — Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, website, blogs.

Millions of dollars were also spent in what might be called “traditional advertising in support of social media.”

The result – It was a disaster

  • The Wall Street Journal reported that Pepsi-Cola and Diet Pepsi had each lost about 5% of their market share in the past year.
  • For the Pepsi-Cola brand alone this represents a loss of over $350 million. For both brands put together the loss is probably something close to 400 million to half-a-billion dollars.
  • For the first time ever Pepsi-Cola has dropped from its traditional position as the number two soft drink in America to number three (behind Diet Coke.)
  • In 2010, Pepsi’s market share erosion accelerated by 8 times compared to the previous year.

This was in spite of the accomplishments which were over 85 million votes registered on the program; over 3.6 million “likes” on the Pepsi Facebook page and almost 70,000 Twitter followers.

It achieved all the false goals and failed to achieve the only legitimate one; Sell more Pepsi products! and yet ‘Social’ Vending Machines.

The Issue Here…

is with the understanding of Social Media. Its indeed a great tool to engage with your audience and establish communication channel to receive feedbacks, insights, suggestions and learning to be implemented as they go along. Both the above programs lack that.

What did Pepsi find out about their customer with ‘Pepsi Refresh‘?

They found out about charities they cared about. What did Pepsi do with this information? They gave money to the organizations that got the most votes, thereby alienating customers, whose charities didn’t make the cut.  It had an outbound marketing approach and could more aptly be labeled, “Let’s piss off many of our consumers and see if we can increase our market-share“.

What will Pepsi find out about their customers with ‘Social’ Vending Machines?


While the bigger issue indeed is that its almost pushing sales that doesn’t really work with most consumers.

Pepsi will have to follow strong privacy guidelines in the program which prevents them from storing any information submitted on ‘Social’ Vending Machines completely destroying the possibility of extracting anything valuable off the data otherwise would have been accumulated.

Its time that Pepsi learns to explore the low cost methods on social media platforms to engage with users online enabling themselves to learn about consumers and gradually build trust and loyalty. Their folly is seeing social media as a replacement rather than an add-on.

Anubhav Sharma

Ambush Marketing at World Cup

The only thing that’s making quiet a buzz during FIFA WC 2010 is not only Vuvuzela or as some call it Stadium Horn but also in the media circuit, the Ambush Marketing.

So imagine where you plan a huge party and invite elite but while you were planning there was no support of any kind from your room mate at all and s/he refuses to share the cost. Now on the day of the party the room mate shows up and enjoys as much as you do and is able to reap all the benefits without having to plan with you or pay up for the expenses. Now don’t you feel cheated? The freeloader is able to distribute not only his contact cards but also had an equal opportunity to make an impact.

What if this party cost you $ 20 Million or above???

Yeah! that’s what Ambush Marketing is…

As explained in wikipedia, Ambush Marketing is a marketing campaign that takes place around an event but does not involve payment of a sponsorship fee to the event. For most events of any significance, one brand will pay to become the exclusive and official sponsor of the event in a particular category or categories, and this exclusivity creates a problem for one or more other brands. Those other brands then find ways to promote themselves in connection with the same event, without paying the sponsorship fee and without breaking any laws.

FIFA plays very heavy to protect official brand sponsors, who are made to shell out over $1.2 billion collectively for the status. And at the current stat over 2000 complaints are pending with the governing body as FIFA tackles subversive marketing at the global equivalent to the Super Bowl.

This time around we saw some very good executions of Ambush Marketing by Nike & Pepsi who almost hijacked the FIFA World Cup 2010.

Case Study: Nike

It is most notable that how non-FIFA partner Nike is stealing the spotlight from official sponsor Adidas, resulting into generating double the amount of online searches.

Fans are still talking about Nike’s “Write the Future” ad, which spiced up the excitement through its star studded  viral ad, featuring soccer superstars like Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo and Fabio Cannavaro.

Nike very beautifully showcased the impact of game moves like pass, shot and tackle, each crucial enough to potentially change the life of a player, or even the nation.

They even included a shot of Wayne Rooney in a caravan slum facing shame after failing to bring glory to his nation.

So far the Viral Ad has over 16 million views and Nike has also embedded an exclusive 10 minutes behind-the-scenes video on its Facebook page. In order to view it, you got to “like” it. Queit an effective method to gain likes for its page with over 1.2 million already in place.

With those results Nike indeed with its viral ad gets in place a more cost effective strategy than sponsoring the event. What do you think?

Case Study: Pepsi

Another player which managed to get their Ambush Marketing right during FIFA World Cup is Pepsi.

They again launched a viral ad which featured World class players Lionel Messi, Thierry Henry, Ricardo Kaká, Frank Lampard, Andrei Arshavin and Didier Drogba with multi platinum selling artist Akon whose smash new track  ‘Oh Africa’ accompanies the advertisement adding lot of WOW factor resulting into Pepsi generating a huge buzz online.

The video has received more views and attention than Coke’s videos since it went viral in March. It is a two-and-a-half minute high-budget video and is considered a World Cup video even though Pepsi does not directly associate itself with the competition.

Pepsi Ambush Marketing- Phase II

So when Argentina’s famous and most controversial former soccer star and current coach Diego Maradona made a wacky promise ‘if Argentina were to win the World Cup, he would run through the streets of Buenos Aires naked’, Pepsi was quick to capitalize on this quote.

They took out the Print Ads in Argentina featuring a Pepsi bottle with no label and only a tag around the neck with “If the coach goes naked, we will, too“.

Pepsi promises that if Argentina wins and Maradona stands to his naked victory lap promise, they will distribute Pepsi bottles in Argentina for one week with no label.

Now if Argentina wins or not and weather Maradona keeps to his wacky promise or not Pepsi clearly emerges as a winner in this whole deal for me. Pepsi’s idea is fun, creative and well timed to strengthen it’s association with the World Cup, even though it isn’t the official sponsor.

Imagine if Argentina does win the world cup, Pepsi will have very clever and cost-effectively association with the most joyous moment for Argentina. Brilliant!!!

Anubhav Sharma

Social Commerce – Levi’s using Facebook to populate Shopping Carts

With growth of the Social Networks it is only apparent that we will witness the growth also of Social Commerce, especially after Facebook announced crusade in Social colonization to spread it’s wings across the web.

Levi’s is amongst first to take advantage of it.

AWARENESS: One look at the Levi’s website and you can’t miss that it is now integrated with Facebook to offer it’s users a better shopping experience and enhance it’s reach riding upon Viral reach that latter offers. It straight talks about Like-Minded Shopping to entice users to participate in the same.

EDUCATION: Once you click on the communication in the next screen there is an intro video educating users as to how they can go about liking a product on their website by clicking “Like” without even logging or registering on Levi’

You can also watch the video on youtube

GOING SOCIAL: For each of the product, Levi’s encourages users to “Like” the products using standard social features from Facebook that also prompts viewers to be the “First of your friends” to like it. When your friend lands on the same product page s/he is able to see how many of her/his friends have liked that particular product to decide if they want to buy it.

SOCIAL COMMERCE: Now using the aggregated Facebook data, Levi’s is in position to populate a shopping cart that consists of items most liked by all your friends using the product.

This ends up providing for your friends shopping with you even when they are really not present with you, which indeed is awesome and should result into better sales.

Such functionality leads to the powerful WOMM (Word of Mouth Marketing) increasing the mouth of sales funnel which is recommended so all the more effective.

Anubhav Sharma