Pepsi Mimics Web Celebs and Average Joes in Videos

What would it be like to watch yourself virtually testing the new Pepsi Next? PepsiCo aims to give Facebook and YouTube users the chance to find out. The beverage maker launched an Internet Taste Test on Facebook to encourage consumers to try its new low-sugar cola, Pepsi Next.

The Internet Taste Test uses comedy and online profile data to create videos of what a real-life taste test would be like for at least 100 lucky virtual Pepsi drinkers, while pushing consumer trials of – and engagement with -the new beverage. Early videos, however, feature well known tech industry execs and YouTube stars – think web celebrities who generate lots of viral pass along, like entrepreneur and oenophile Gary Vaynerchuk.

The campaign taps comedians from the website Funny or Die to do impressions of selected consumers and what Pepsi has dubbed “notable personalities” in a series of minute-long videos. In the videos, Funny or Die impersonators sample Pepsi Next and react according to information from Facebook profiles, such as recent experiences and likes.

“The beauty is it will be a mix of Pepsi fans, cultural icons and aspects of Internet culture,” a Pepsi rep said.

Pepsi worked with digital agency the Barbarian Group to create the the Internet Taste Test effort for Pepsi Next. Promotion also includes paid media, such as a YouTube takeover and an integrated viral ad unit with BuzzFeed. Pepsi has also partnered with Walmart for a sampling program in 800 Walmart Supercenter stores through the end of April. The product itself launched March 26.

The first video launched Tuesday. It features actor and comedian Rob Riggle, who recently starred in the movie 21 Jump Street. In his Taste Test video, the “Real” Riggle describes how the Taste Test works while watching his “Improv You” sample the cola and talk about his real-life likes, including a golden-winged Pegasus, Reggaeton, skeet shooting and inspirational water colors of trains.

Pepsi fans can also watch video impressions of first sips from Vaynerchuk, whose Funny or Die doppelganger pours his Pepsi Next into a wine glass before swirling, sniffing and spitting into a bucket. Internet meme character Scumbag Steve talks about high school parties and dating in his video, while BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti discusses cat videos and declares “O.M.G.” after gulping Pepsi Next.

There were hundreds of submissions by the end of the first day from non-celeb Facebook users on Tuesday, said the Pepsi spokesperson. The brand will create at least 100 videos over five days of filming with 12 Funny or Die comedians. Pepsi said fan videos will be edited and posted back to select users within approximately 24 hours.

Rosa H. was chosen for an impersonation involving her love of white t-shirts and the new Pepsi drink.

To date, viewership numbers on YouTube range from less than 100 to nearly 5,000 for various campaign videos.

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