Pepsi Dumps the Super Bowl for Social Media

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In a stunning move, Pepsi has announced that they will not be running ads in the Super Bowl this year.  Instead, they will be focusing on social media.

Yes, you heard right.  They’re dumping the Super Bowl, televisions largest event of the year, for social media.  This marks a serious turning point for not just social media, but media in general.  In fact, another ABC article, this one written by Larry D. Woodard, CEO of Vigilante (a Manhattan ad agency), points this out:

As television viewership has gone down, Internet usage, particularly social media interaction, has increased. The 2009 Super Bowl attracted an impressive 95.4 million viewers (approximately 42.1 percent of U.S. TV homes) and many of those watch the commercials as attentively as the football game. By contrast, in the important 18-34 demographic, a whopping 85 percent use social media (texting, blogging or social networking), and the phenomenal growth of social media has the attention of every major company. This holiday season, Toys “R” Us developed a Facebook page that grew at the astounding rate of between 40,000 and 95,000 fans per day after its late November launch.

I would call that compelling evidence that early adopters like Pepsi may be the ones who reap the most rewards for this switch.

So who’s the hot new number that Pepsi is dumping their 23-year relationship with the Super Bowl for?  It’s The Pepsi Refresh Project, which begins January 13th.  They’re putting a $20 million bet on that social networking project being a Bowl replacer.

Starting January 13, people will be able to visit the Refresh Project through a variety of social media and give ideas on how Pepsi could “refresh” their community.  Then, on February 1st, those ideas will be put up for a vote by the Internet at large.  Then, the $20 million Pepsi didn’t spend on the Super Bowl this year will instead go towards funding the winning projects.

What Pepsi appears to be doing, and what Mashable seems to agree with me on, is moving the Pepsi brand from soft drinks and sexiness (aka Britney Spears and Cindy Crawford) towards social outreach and philanthropy.  In other words, the Pepsi Generation is over and the new Pepsi Community Action Generation is in.

If it works, it will be the greatest coupe in media history.  If not, there’s always next year’s Super Bowl, I guess.  Maybe by then, Britney will have made her comeback.


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