Consumers say, “Catch us if you can”. Coke and Pepsi give chase.

Simon Mainwaring / Brands / 10 years ago

I really appreciated the fantastic feedback on this week’s post about The Death of Corporate Websites. Lo and behold, last night I spy a quote (thanks, Frank Reed) from Anne Carelli, Digital Marketing Manager for Coke saying:

“Several years ago, Coke realized that is not their home page – it is, and YouTube. Take the time to keep abreast of what is showing up for your brand in these new social sites and search engines.”

What’s more New Media Age now tells us Coke will no longer be creating one-off-campaign-websites in favor of building out its existing social media presence on YouTube and Facebook.

If brand managers need evidence of the need to leap out of their corporate site nests, they need only look at Coke and Pepsi.

The Pepsi Refresh Project is crowdsourcing and funding ($20+ million) the best consumer ideas to positively transform communities and, ultimately, our world. It is doing so in replacement of a 23-year long run of Super Bowl advertising (a handy snapshot of the shift in consumer attention from traditional to social media and a big brand’s response). Now it hasn’t been without the inevitable snafus. This week faulty security settings comprised personal information of those submitting proposals. You only need to visit Pepsi’s Facebook Fan page to see the response. Yikes. No hugs going on there at that time.

Pepsi will undoubtedly recover and now Coke has wholeheartedly jumped into the social media frey shifting investment and attention from its corporate site to community (rather than corporate) hubs. Prinz Pinakatt, Coke’s interactive marketing manager for Europe explained why Coke has stopped building Coke-hosted pages for every campaign:

“We would like to place our activities and brands where people are, rather than dragging them to our platform.”

He went further:

“In some cases some of our campaigns won’t need a site. In most cases these will still exist as it’s the most obvious destination for a consumer, but it might only be a page linking to YouTube encouraging people to join the community there.”

So here we see two major brand – arch- rivals – in lock step in their shift towards social media with each choosing a different strategy. Pepsi is creating a brand-sponsored, stand-alone, community building hub, while Coke is leveraging the dynamics of pre-existing social hubs like YouTube and Facebook for the long term.

If nothing else this should convince brand managers of two key issues:

1. Follow consumers. They’re not looking for you any more, they’re looking for each other.

2. The most evolved brands already exploring various strategies within this new space. You need to join them.

Even if you don’t believe corporate website are completely dead, their are dramatic signs of life in the community space that brands cannot and should not ignore. To do anything else is like standing in the corner at a party either waiting for people to come over to you or yelling at them to do so. Quite lonely really. Especially when everyone else starts having fun together on the other side of the room..

This is not a bad time for brands. There has never been more opportunity, potential and uncharted waters than what exist in the social space today. Wade in – fast. You’ll even have a choice of sodas!

What do you think about Coke’s latest move and Pepsi’s snafu? How brave is your brand?

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  1. Avatar Sabrina Mandanas says:

    The definition of insanity goes how again? Doing the same thing and expecting a different result? So if, as we are developing and advancing, we stay convicted to the mind-set that should we persistently evolve and progress as active, present and sharp participants of our culture, we must create and re-invent our transcending selves at a constant pace (whew!). No doubt, we ought never have a moment to spare convening amongst boredom, stagnation, nor stillness rendering us ineffective otherwise. For consumers, it is in identifying with what the product(s) represents and how it invokes a psychological identification, hunger, and perhaps retorted dreams which will make them commit, thus ultimately purchase. Social media has swept us all so promptly because it has the dynamic ingredient with which we can all identify—connectivity. Who would not want to connect with another just like us; those whose DNA sequence coding conforms to ours? Coke and Pepsi have both identified this strong human thirst which they believe they can quench. Power to them; bravo! Bravery is about walking into the unknown and confidently forging on…Pepsi’s snafu shows their human short-comings. Those who saw the effort they were making in connecting, reaching out and making a difference can embrace that with forgiveness. Who doesn’t have a weak side? In both their cases, I see Coke and Pepsi’s message as — we want to be a part of you in your own terms; we want to continue providing what satisfies you and if it means having to change to maintain and continue fostering our enriched togetherness then so it shall be. Now who can tell me that you would not fall in love all over again…? (whew, tired, tired baby I am…nite nite world…)
    Sabrina Mandanas
    World Affairs Council Columbia
    Columbia, SC

  2. Thanks Sabrina. So right and something you said struck me. The need for brands to stay present. This is so difficult logistically to do for an organization, let alone as a operating principle. Wow, it's going to be tough. For consumers, its a little easier as the connection tools keep their attention constantly moving so they are always where they are. And I agree, consumers can forgive a snafu like Pepsi's for that very reason – because it is human. Both strategies (that of Coke and Pepsi) are valid and people will respond to them reaching out. Principally because by default brands are championing our togetherness, as you say. Very interesting times for brands and so much empowerment to consumers. The industry will be transformed. Thanks for the great feedback, Simon.

    1. Avatar iconic88 says:

      For larger brands, being present will be a challenge due to what you mentioned Simon – logistics and operating principle, let alone corporate conditioning. This itself is a massive opportunity for many small to medium sized businesses to take advantage of.

      Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment as Buddha said. Timeless wisdom which is true today.

      All the best guys!

  3. Avatar RyanMoede says:

    It's awesome to see Pepsi and Coke finally make investments in the right place – where their customers are. I'm excited to see both of their initiatives, not that either project is entirely unique from a social media perspective, but because we have not seen it done by major brands at this scale before. Kudos to them both, and hopefully their social media participation will help set a new benchmark for how big companies can be real people. (@rmoede)

  4. Thanks, Ryan. That's my hope too. the point is not what they're doing but their role as an example to inspire others. Here's hoping others join them soon.
    Thanks for the input, Simon

  5. […] Consumers say, “Catch us if you can”. Coke and Pepsi give chase. One good idea deserves another: Book Giveaway […]

  6. Interesting way to boost your social media profiles. Most of the time you would want to promote your site for increased user signal and the SEO benefits it has but I guess when you are Coke or Pepsi SEO isn’t such a big deal.