2014 / 28 December

Pepsi Max hits the streets with this augmented reality brand gesture

Pepsi Max UK recently installed augmented reality bus shelters as a way to engage with people sitting around waiting for public transport. Admittedly, the craftsmanship is stunning, but the question that jumps out is, what’s their point?

Big, public brand gestures are a wonderful way to garner attention and create word of mouth buzz. They’re designed for our ever increasingly shared lives. As they state, “Pepsi Max brings you the Unbelievable. Unbelievable feats and experiences created for you by Pepsi Max” and the bus shelters simulate alien invasions, rampaging animals and more. The campaign is loosely held together by finishing with the tag line, “Pepsi Max: Maximum Taste. No Sugar. Unbelievable”. That is quite the leap of logic.

But what’s really unbelievable is why the Pepsi marketing department decided this was a viable way to engage with their market, and create a memorable positive experience that relates to the product.

The thinking behind this campaign is very similar to one previously discussed, the stunt advertising for Carrie. But where these differ is that the campaign created for Carrie relates to the movie and the message. It is relevant as well as engaging. Pepsi Max marginally delivers only one of those two key features. While I can envision many people talking about this after experiencing it, if they were then questioned, “do you want a Pepsi Max because of this?” the overwhelming answer would likely be “no”. As one observer succinctly stated: Either way, the key message of the stunt is that Pepsi Max will make your shit your underpants.

So where does this campaign falter where others thrive? Compare the recent efforts of Pepsi to Molson’s “The Beer Fridge” from last year:

The concept is similar — something public, something physically disruptive and something engaging. But the quality of execution related to the values of the brand are miles apart. While Molson creates an enduring, memorable and authentic gesture, the Pepsi Max campaign will likely end up on the Internet filler pile. Molson puts product in people’s hands and gets them to bond around the practice of drinking beer. Pepsi creates a simple stunt that has zero to do with their product other than a poorly constructed tagline.

Gestures that retain none of the values of their brand are destined to become a waste of marketing dollars in the long term. Those behind the brand need to stop and think about what’s true and authentic to their brand before they put a single idea on paper. Hopefully then, they will create an enduring experience for their audience and deservedly generate more return for their spend.

Original article here.
Written for Truly Deeply blog.

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