PepsiCo Talks Social After Soda Brand’s Fall to Third Place

A slip in the soda rankings for its Pepsi brand doesn’t appear to have made PepsiCo squeamish on its commitment to social media marketing.

Beverage Digest reported last month that the company’s flagship brand, Pepsi, had fallen to third place behind Coke and Diet Coke. Pepsi – known for its Refresh Everything goodwill campaign and a bevy of social media efforts – had ranked second for decades in that sales category. Some considered the slip an indictment of the brand’s embrace of social media and de-emphasis of traditional broadcast advertising – exemplified by its withdrawal from the Super Bowl last year.

After a presentation at Ad Age Digital today, B. Bonin Bough, PepsiCo’s global director for digital and social media, addressed the recent development in a chat with ClickZ. He suggested that singling out his company’s social media marketing efforts for the fall to third place was wrong-headed.

“The whole point of integrated marketing is that it’s never one thing over the other,” he said. “The people who are going to see continued success with [social media] are going to believe in integration. It’s not about isolation.”

Embracing social media and location-based efforts can help in both branding and moving product, he said. His firm has been particularly active on geo-social platforms like Foursquare and StickyBits.

“If the objective is equity building, there’s a huge opportunity,” Bough told ClickZ. “If it’s driving sales, like I talked about with the work we are doing in-store with location, there is a huge opportunity there… We are an aggressively digital organization. Digital is not only transforming society, but the way consumers interact with brands.”

During his half-hour presentation, Bough noted that so-called social TV platforms like Miso and GetGlue have begun to gain traction. As advertisers ponder the importance of social, he said, they need to understand that “the [TV] space they are spending so much on is about to be transformed.”

He also highlighted a pilot that his company has been running for its Brisk iced tea beverage on Tongal’s video platform. Together, the firms orchestrated an animation video contest that will reward the winner $25,000. Bough said they have received submissions from all 50 states as well as 51 countries.

“And this is with very limited marketing,” he explained. “It’s essentially from reaching out to our community and Tongal’s community.”

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