4 ways Pepsi could have used Social Media advertising at the SuperBowl

SuperBowl miniature screens for Social media advertising

SuperBowl miniature screens for Social media advertising

Social Media Temptation:

The Super Bowl according to accepted belief, is the second largest food consumption day in the USA after Thanksgiving day. So when a major advertiser decides to not splash out on advertising during this acknowledged “National Holiday”, it would set the entire advertising and media spheres abuzz! This is exactly what has happened on every major discussion forum, even on large online business social networks such as LinkediN.

The discussion, is about the Super Bowl advertising stalwart, Pepsi, this year deciding to direct it’s advertising effort to Social Media instead of focusing on advertising centered around Super Bowl Sunday. This is a huge and monumental decision that has been taken, and all eyes are on Pepsi, to see if their gamble will pay off. After all in today’s world of Social networking and instant communications, word spreads like wild-fire in a matter of hours! Thus the very media platform of choice that Pepsi is choosing for advertising, Social Networks, could be it’s undoing if anything goes wrong. One only has to look at the ill fated (and questionably named device from Apple) the iPad, and how it is being ripped apart on blogging and social media networks, just a day after it’s launch.

The full potential of dynamic digital media platforms such as social networks, are only now being digested by main stream advertisers and marketers. The same temptation and seduction that it offers… of end consumer’s evangelizing a product, is also the very platform that can be the un-doing of an ill conceived product or ad campaign!

How Pepsi could have used Social Media at the SuperBowl:

I had thought of writing this article a couple of weeks ago, when taking part in a lively discussion on LinkediN on this very topic (you need to be a member of the Those in Media group to view).

The discussion was on why Pepsi had taken this landmark decision not to advertising at the SuperBowl, and many of the pros and Cons were being discussed. The thread is still alive, and one thing everyone seems to have acknowledged is that the fact that Pepsi has created so much buzz already in social networks by merely announcing it’s decision, has proved the effectiveness of such dynamic digital media platforms. During the discussion, the thought occurred to me:

What if Pepsi were to have installed a temporary Wifi Network at the Stadium itself. A private stadium wide network, where access was free but via a Pepsi branded landing page or gateway page. The connection to the outside internet would also be there, but could be regulated to reach only popular Social Networking sites such as Twitter, MySpace and Facebook. This choice would be completely at Pepsi’s discretion.

Here’s how it could have been implemented and 4 advantages:

  1. - Pepsi would have instantly brought Social Media advertising, into the Real World and on-ground, right at the Super Bowl
  2. - Thousands of Blackberry, Iphones and Smartphones would have been converted into miniature SuperBowl Screens, if Pepsi was streaming a live feed to them or showing instant replays, and of course, Pepsi Commercials
  3. - All that a smartphone user would have to do is turn on their Wifi enabled devices and log on to the Pepsi Private Wifi Network.
  4. - Pepsi could have turned this into a direct source of revenue. Example: On every Pullring of a can of pepsi a password could have been printed (for single login) giving time limited access to the Wifi Network. This would actually help in sales and consumption of the product.
  5. - Ticker tape like real estate on the main SuperBowl scoreboard screen could have been rented by Pepsi, showing Tweets sent out live by the fans at the Stadium, via the private network. Or this could me moderated and outside tweets from fans at home could also stream in.
  6. - Fans could upload live snapshots to their facebook accounts from the stadium.

This would have brought online Social Media networking face to face with real people on-ground! an experiment worthy of a separate study in itself. Pepsi could have accomplished both, on site advertising mixed with social media advertising, and possibly driven up sales of it’s product in one go.

How Digital Media Platforms can actually Sell Products:

We all accept that the holy grail of advertising is for the audience or consumer to look at an advertisement, and want to reach for their wallets and buy the product. Yet how many times has this truly been the desired outcome? Setting up standalone display stations in Malls and Supermarkets, with hopefully attention grabbing displays and products lined up below on a shelf, rarely initiate a call to action, unless on a huge discount or a two for one type of offer.

In a related article, I was looking at the idea of how outdoor Billboards, could actually evolve into Digital Media “Fuel stations” for consumers. What we are witnessing, is a peculiar phenomenon. Digital Media or at least online connectivity, has become like a drug that we need,  just as that shot of caffeine helps the day get started right.  We have to re-fuel on Digital Media through out the day, to sustain us.

To put it another way, being Digitally connected has become as important as having electricity. In fact it is arguable that you can live and work by candle light, but not without the internet any more. Taking that into consideration, here’s an innovative way of selling products, by giving incentive to the consumer – A dose of “digital connectivity” while outdoors and on the move…

Pepsi Vending Machines as Digital Refueling Stations:

The next time you put in a coin at a Pepsi Vending machine at a mall, or metro station, and pull the ring on the can, wouldn’t it be nice to have a unique password printed on the tab or under the can that allowed free internet access for a period of say 15 minutes to check email, send photos while on vacation in a city or even make an international VOIP call, around a 1 meter radius of the vending machine?

The same idea can be different with a little more creative thinking. Assuming in a couple of years, having internet connectivity becomes as ubiquitous as breathing free air, what can be offered in that case, is probably the latest song sampler from an artiste signed up for a Pepsi promotion. Other ideas could be a free e-book or even some sort of discount coupon. Such Digital Currency is fast becoming as valuable as physical and tangible goods are. Again, like in the Private Wifi network at the Stadium, the vending machine becomes a Digital re-fueling station, that both satisfies a person’s real human thirst and quenches their Digital thirst as well.

The first innovative Ad Agency to implement this, could do well to pass some credit my way! There’s no point having a starving “Mensch” is there?

Credit for picture goes to Purdue University. While looking for an appropriate picture for this article, I came across their concept for an E-stadium, way back in 2007  (dog years in terms of technology evolution).