Pepsi + GOOD = Positive Change via Social Media?

Via Anna Brones
on Feb 1, 2010
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Over at Under Solen we’re always excited to see big dollars behind cool causes. In fact, we all know that big corporations have the power to do big things, and Pepsi is the latest company to create an initiative that appears to be focused less on advertising and more on positive change. Teaming up with GOOD Magazine, on Monday, Pepsi launched the Pepsi Refresh Project, a grant program that will allot at least $20 million through the end of the year for donations to individuals, businesses and nonprofits working with everything from health to arts and culture to the environment.

Pepsi accepts 1000 new ideas for grants every month. Visitors to the site can vote daily on which ideas they think are best. There’s a lot up for grabs; grants will be made in $5,000 to $250,000 bundles. Anyone that has an idea that just might change the world, it looks like this project just might be what you were looking for.

In the past branding might have been about getting people to put a Pepsi in their hand and recommend it to their friends, but now it’s about engaging communities to raise awareness about great causes. Pepsi will be using the power of social media to spread the word. In fact, Pepsi has partnered with some of the biggest names in the online industry to promote the project including Hulu, AOL and MTV.

Some may question the intentions of a major brand like Pepsi, but the people at GOOD are convinced that the initiative a positive thing.

“That a major brand like Pepsi is taking a stand and saying that purpose and progress are core to its identity is critical,” said GOOD Founder and CEO, Ben Goldhirsh in a recent blog post.

The New York Times calls that cause-related marketing or pro-social marketing, “by which corporations seek to back up their talk about benefiting society.”

As for the social media side of things, this initiative emphasizes the increased role that consumers are having in today’s branding and advertising campaigns. In fact, they’re no longer just consumers, but an active and engaged audience that can turn a simple campaign into a movement.

Go take a look at some of the many projects that have been submitted for grants… there’s some REALLY good stuff in there — a multimedia Afghan photo exhibit, an interactive website to learn about human trafficking, a cross country bike trip to build affordable housing, and beyond! — which gives us great hope that although this is certainly getting Pepsi a lot of good PR, it’s about something bigger and better. What do you think? PR stunt or vehicle for positive change?

This post was cross-posted from Under Solen.


About Anna Brones

Anna Brones is a writer, producer and the author of The Culinary Cyclist. She is also the founder and editor of Foodie Underground.


15 Responses to “Pepsi + GOOD = Positive Change via Social Media?”

  1. Perhaps they should fund anti-childhood obesity programs that would undo 1/1,000,000th of what they do, day to day, every day, night and day. My feeling, without knowing what the hell I'm talking about, is that they're sharing a little good money with Good, which otherwise wouldn't be partnering with such a questionable behemoth.

    That said, I'm all for big corporations doing Good—they have the power in one day to do far more than elephant and the like can in a year.

  2. Anna says:

    Then go vote for this one:

    Agree with you on both accounts… but when it comes down to it, big companies are going to run big advertising/pr campaigns no matter what, so isn't it good that cool projects get some funding out of it as well??

    Then again, if you're feeling extra bitter, go check these out:

  3. Andre says:

    Have no doubt that $20 Million for Pepsi is lunch money and the "core to its identity" that GOOD's Ben Goldhirsh is speaking of is simply Pepsi seeing the marketing value of dropping some "coin" into the do-good side of social media. The exposure on Hulu, AOL and MTV is a sure fire way for Pepsi to temporarily erase the damage they have done to millions of people globally pushing water+sweetener+chemicals…

    Now I am always a glass half-full kind of guy so I sincerely hope that there has been an executive management change and environmental epiphany inside Pepsi but from what I have read there is no such thing. If Pepsi can show the world that their "Identity" has changed through more that a green-marketing-giveaway then I will be an avid supporter… balls in their court

  4. Via

    Nathan Smith
    I think it's always good for corporations to chip in some $$, even if it is just a way of tidying a dirty image.

    Kelly C
    heh… I was going to use "Due Sum Good" in a campaign a year or so ago… kinda cool to see that phrase come around!

    I'm with you, Nathan, but am reading great book called Baked In right now that's all about the brand and message and marketing being an organic expression of said product, not an apology or hyped manifestation of such. Meaning, if Pepsi made its drinks less horrible for us, and appealing for children, that would be real generosity.
    2 seconds ago ·

  5. Voted! You should blog that video above, too, good stuff!

  6. […] I’m digging about Pepsi right now is their Refresh Project. You may recall a post written by Anna Brones for Elephant in February detailing Pepsi’s new grant program, and consequently it’s how the […]

  7. […] Pepsi! Winner of the 2011 elephant greenwashing award for their Refresh Campaign—Pepsi is, like Coke and the rest, obesity in a bottle for children and other sweeties. And, […]

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  9. You’ve some helpful ideas!Maybe I should to think about trying this by my self.

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