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Interactive Pepsi Video Tells a Good Story, But Misses Opportunities

  |  April 21, 2014   |  Comments

Pepsi has created an interactive video as part of its campaign for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, which kicks off in Brazil in June. While the asset allows viewers to click through for additional content, experts say it may have missed some engagement opportunities.

As part of its 2014 campaign for the World Cup in Brazil, Pepsi has created an interactive video that celebrates soccer and music and the idea that "Now Is What You Make It."

The video features the so-called 2014 Pepsi all-star lineup, which includes soccer players Robin van Persie, David Luiz, Sergio Ramos, Sergio Aguero, Jack Wilshere, and Leo Messi, as well as singer/songwriter/producer Janelle Monae. In the video, Monae performs David Bowie's "Heroes," which also happens to be available on iTunes.

The film will air in nearly 100 countries, Pepsi says.

To interact with the asset, Pepsi instructs viewers to keep their cursors over the video and to click to change the story when the cursor's appearance changes.

"The creative unfolds many surprises as it meanders through the streets of Rio and is told through the eyes of digital beat sensation Stony - an everyday hero - proving that every day can become extraordinary when you live for now," Pepsi says.

Unlockable moments in the video feature "additional interactive content to delve deeper into Stony's tour through the streets of Rio," such as a Messi sighting, a samba dance party, and a signed ball from Ramos.

At the end of the video, viewers receive a message telling them how many interactive elements they discovered out of the total 11.

Leslie Hall, president of digital agency Iced Media, says the idea of "Now Is What You Make It" ties in well with the concept of interactive video, which puts users in control.

"Overall I think the story of the video is really good," Hall says. "The imagery, music, and vibe really capture that very Rio-centric feel they're trying to bring across and they did a really good job of using the right influencers and ambassadors to tell a global story, which is really hard to do."

In addition, the use of a Bowie song gives the video a "multi-generational touch point," she notes.

Hall also likes the personalization aspect of the autographed soccer ball, which she says is "really timely in terms of all the personalization trends in the space."

Erika Trautman, chief executive (CEO) of interactive video firm Rapt Media, says the film reflects growing awareness that interactive videos are a great way to engage viewers in a brand story and cites a report from digital advertising technology company Sizmek that says average click-through rates for interactive videos can be as high as 8 percent.

However, Hall says Pepsi perhaps did itself a disservice by using Flash, which is not compatible with iOS devices.

"Anyone on an iPhone or iPad can't actually interact with or watch the video and I think that was a misstep," Hall says.

HTML5 would instead allow a brand to create a wholly interactive video that is compatible with all devices, she notes.

In addition, Hall says the use of branching or mapping might have given viewers more visibility as to where they are within the Pepsi experience at any given time and to make it more intuitive.

And while she says she loves the personalization component and understands Pepsi has created a global asset with related challenges, the option to sign in with Google or Facebook at the beginning of the video could have pre-populated it with names instead of disrupting the experience for viewers to type them in.

"When using interactive video, there's an opportunity to be a lot more thoughtful and deliberate about how and why the interactive elements are enhancing the overall experience," Hall says. "I think it's great that with this asset there's a great content archive and viewers are able to unlock content and weave it into a larger story, but I'm not sure that it actually leverages the opportunity of interactivity and technology into the video in a way that enhanced the overall viewing experience."

Interactive elements in particular come in handy when there's an opportunity for learning or training, as in a tutorial about how to use a product, or when a brand wants to connect with a user in an emotional way, such as with Arcade Fire's "The Wilderness Downtown," which asks users to enter their childhood addresses, she adds.

Pepsi did not respond to requests for comment.

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Lisa Lacy

In addition to ClickZ and Search Engine Watch, Lisa's work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Luxury Spot, LearnVest, MarthaStewart.com, GoodHousekeeping.com, amNewYork, and The Wall Street Journal. She's a graduate of Columbia's School of Journalism.

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