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16/05/2011 by

CMO Insights To Pepsi’s Social Vending System

We do understand that consumer brands strive for new digital opportunities to make their solitary brand touch points more social. And we really do applaud each and every CMO attempt to make that change. In this item we will review Pepsi’s new social vending system…

As you could see in the video, Pepsi is trying to make the borders between the digital and the physical worlds fuzzier with PepsiCo’s new Social Vending System. It allows people to send free soda to friends and all experiences are meant to shape exciting ways that create compelling experiences.

So I like that the social vending machine is trying to add a fun element to a mundane transaction and that people can create and share short video messages to their peers. But there are some elements that I really miss…

I do think that it’s a bit too neat to inspire consumers. It gives me a bit of an Oreo feeling: rather neat, slick, cheesy and maybe a bit too USA approached?

Next I do understand Pepsi is about their products. But would CMO’s rather copy this PepsiCo example? Would it be the smartest way, trying to try to start interactions with the product in the epic center? Is that the best interactive and social approach to offer consumers great entertainment and experiences they would love to share with friends?

I would rather advice CMO’s to do it the Nike, Coca Cola or Starbucks way. Why? I will try to explain next.

With the Nike+ platform, Nike has switched from being an advertizer towards being a facilitator. Nike offers runners great energy with their platform.

Nike builds excitement with its platform, very light on its products and very light on branding (Nike who?). Of course it’s about the brand and its products, but that is not put at the epic center of the customer journey. See more about Nike+

Off course many platform participants will understand that running might be better on Nike shoes, but that does not mean that the journey should start with flashing a pair of Nike shoes. And bet your ass Nike asked its agency: “But when will they see my products?”

Coca Cola has launched a very funny vending machine in retail spaces. The vending machine also became a viral video on the internet, engaging millions of consumers in a smart but bottom-up way. See more on the Coca Cola Hapiness Machine

The difference between the Coca Cola and the Pepsi vending machine is that Coke started the customer journey with great content. And without great content, there is no engagement. And without engagement, there is no social and no community. Coke certainly asked its agency: “But when will they see my products?”

MyStarbucks Idea, was the pain reliever Starbucks needed – the medicine that made their products and brand relevant and welcome in consumer lives again. See more on My Starbucks Idea.

With its platform Starbucks moved away from traditional advertising towards a model that is more content-driven, engaged and focused on consumer dialogue. Re-engineering the brand identity and reshaping their products. And Starbucks certainly asked its agency: “But when will they see my products?”

So in my humble opinion, what CMO’s can learn from PepsiCo compared to Nike, Coca Cola and Starbucks is this:

Brands can shape our experiences and even our identities. And those brands are able to enter our circle of trust by becoming our friends — on social networks like Facebook, Twitter and through blogs.

This could guide CMO’s to ways that can re-engineer their brands. A way how their brands can connect to their fans and to establish a new brand identity through storytelling and social interactions.

If that journey can start with only flashing some products in our faces, I doubt it. I do believe in pulling fans gently through the funnel, starting with offering them a great brand experience.

Would love to hear your opinion on this subject…


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Igor Beuker
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