Pepsi Gets it Right

Back in June you may have read about my disconnected experience with Pepsi and their new website launch.

I’m happy to say that the issue has been resolved. In an apparent Phase 2, the new Careers site is fresh, informative and interactive with just the right combination of information and branding. (And no, sadly BRANDEMiX did not do the redesign.

But that’s not the only thing Pepsi is getting right these days. According to a recent article in Brandweek sent to me by consultant Bruce Dorskind, back in December, Pepsi employees in Purchase were treated to the surprise of a new brand launch when they came to work. Rising on both sides of the campus driveway were 20-foot tall billboards plastered with greetings: “Howdy,” “Hope,” “Tango” and just “Yo.” Pepsi’s new circular logo stood in place of every “o” in the words. As employees parked their cars, they noticed an enormous blue flag that had been unfurled from the headquarters’ roof — a giant refresh symbol. The in-your-face signage was meant to give employees the same feeling that consumers would get in Times Square during New Year’s Eve, which is where PepsiCo would be launching its new initiative publicly.

Hall posters, floor and elevator decals and other placards made it impossible for anyone at headquarters to miss the brand’s new look and message. The push culminated with “Rally Day” on Jan. 15. Pepsi execs gathered up to 4,000 employees, in person and online, and laid out the brand’s strategy for the coming year. But in terms of size, scope and ambition, this effort was a first, according to Bill Wyman, senior marketing manager for trademark Pepsi.

Pepsi took great pains to assure that its employees weren’t just part of the marketing process, but that the internal and external messaging was aligned. Beginning a whole month before the holidays, the company conducted no fewer than 10 Webinars for its employees and bottlers, introducing them to the “refresh” message. Feature articles and meeting reminders were placed in the internal company “Pepline” newsletter and intranet site leading up to Rally Day. “We had to take the communications level to new heights,” Wyman explains. “It was critical to get information to every person [as to] how they could bring [the brand’s new marketing message] to life in the marketplace.”

We at BRANDEMiX, have always been a strong proponent of internal Brand activation but both experts and I concede that it happens less than it should.

Before you could blink your eyes, Coca-Cola followed in kind. On Jan. 21, Coca-Cola aired a Webcast that previewed its marketing plans (including its highly anticipated Super Bowl spots) for both employees and bottlers. Employees in the Atlanta office all got T-shirts bearing the new slogan next to Coke’s iconic “contour” bottle. To reinforce the “Open happiness” message, Coke invited its employees to share photos of ways they were living positively. They accepted, submitting some 4,000 pictures showing people behaving optimistically both in and outside the office.

According to Coca-Cola North America CMO Katie Bayne, taking the time and effort to introduce new messaging internally is critical-and something the company has not always realized. “One of the things we fundamentally feel is that our employees — not just at the Coca-Cola Company, but the Coca-Cola bottling company — are the best brand ambassadors we have,” Bayne says. “At times we have left them behind.” She also adds a concept that you can find as well on BRANDEMiX website and in our materials–

“If employees are not aware of the goal or strategy for achieving that goal, how can they be expected to implement it? They need to understand that they are critical to the organization’s success.”

Most importantly- let’s look at the business results– Pepsi was rewarded with the 3 words every influencer wants to hear after launching their campaign.

Following a town hall-style meeting in which the brass explained the new logo and the marketing, “People came up to us afterwards and said, ‘Now I get it.'”

So great news in Soda-land. I am optimistic that change is coming, and that more and more, we at BRANDEMiX will be preaching to the choir.

One last treat: Pepsi’s Valentine, this courtesy of talented Matt Kalish also known as my talented nephew and BRANDEMiX Buzzmaster.

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