At OMMA: Pepsi's Katz Dismisses 'Pop Culture'

Andrew Katz

The senior marketing manager for Pepsi-Cola Marketing tossed that job title aside Wednesday as he began his case study presentation, "Pepsi Refreshes the Brand," at OMMA Global, San Francisco. "I'm senior brand manager for refreshing the world," said Andrew Katz, adding: "I refresh the world every day."

One of the most buzzed-about brands in connection with the Super Bowl this year didn't even have an ad in the game. Pepsi had something better than a $3 million spot: The Pepsi Refresh Project, one of the more exciting social media efforts to come out of a major brand, in which the company is offering millions in grant money to good ideas via Facebook and its own branded portal. Why?

"It's no longer about pop culture," he said. "With the decentralization of information, having a Britney Spears commercial isn't important anymore because you can get information on her 24/7." In 2010, it's about activating brand behavior -- crowd sourcing -- by having people submit ideas online, for which Pepsi gives away $1.3 million monthly.

"But it's not about the money," Katz said, "it's about impact of the social return on investment. The effectiveness and success of the campaign will confirm its success."

In the Q&A that followed, Katz said the "Refresh" campaign turns the adversarial relationship between brand and consumer into a partnership. "The concept of determining social return on investment is fantastic," he said, cautioning marketers to "become respectful of your audience. This is not an advertising campaign. It goes way beyond that."

Pepsi's CRM database, he added, has more than seven million subscribers.

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