Archive | January, 2011

PepsiCo Renews Commitment to Pepsi Refresh

Pepsi’s decision last year to skip the Super Bowl (for the first time in 23 years) and spend the $20 million instead on a pro-social, crowdsourced effort it dubbed the Pepsi Refresh Project was a very public display of a major brand leveraging social media and cause-wired marketing for social good.

Displaying a social media savvy previously unassociated with the brand, the initiative’s first year grants, ranging from $5,000 to $250,000, were awarded to 400 winners, including helping rebuild communities that were disrupted by the BP oil spill in the Gulf. A staggering 77 million votes were cast through Facebook and Twitter, where participants used the hashtag #PepsiRefresh to participate.

While not without some controversy during its first year, the results have been impressive enough for PepsiCo to recommit funding to the effort. It will, once again, sit out the Super Bowl — except for lending Pepsi Max brand to a Crash the Super Bowl crowdsourced effort with sister brand Doritos, a partnership that has also generated a little heat from critics for some of the controversial user-generated spots.

“It was a big deal,” commented Carisa Bianchi, president of TBWA/Chiat/Day, to the New York Times. “It really placed Pepsi as a modern brand.”  

Pepsi Refresh “was not a corporate philanthropy effort,” said Shiv Singh, head of digital for PepsiCo Beverages America, to the Times. “This was using brand dollars with the belief that when you use these brand dollars to have consumers share ideas to change the world, the consumers will win, the brand will win, and the community will win. That was a big bet. No one has done it on this scale before.” 

That’s all well and good. But did the project sell more cans of Pepsi or magnify brand awareness? 

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Marketers Suit up With Twitter, Facebook for ‘Social Bowl’

From Hashtags to Newsfeeds to Online Spots, Big Game Advertisers Tap Web 2.0 to Extend Buy

NEW YORK ( — When Audi’s ad debuts Feb. 6 during Super Bowl XLV in the first break in the game, it will contain a hashtag so viewers can follow conversations about the ad on Twitter. Will a majority of viewers have a clue what the symbol means? Probably not. But its mere presence is a sign that Super Bowl advertisers are tapping social media to extend their buy like never before.

In Audi’s case, the TV spot is the starting point and Twitter is the vehicle for extending the experience beyond the first pod of the game. “You need television spots that are obviously humorous and creative, that cause a conversation, that have some kind of cause or meaning behind it,” said Scott Keogh, chief marketing officer. But “truth be told, the cause can only be sustained by social media.”

Mr. Keogh is not alone. More than ever, marketers who enter the Super Bowl are taking part in a multi-week buzz contest rather than a onetime showing of their ad during a football game. “There’s no doubt that the social component provides a buzz,” said Chuck Tomkovick, a professor of marketing at University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, who has studied Super Bowl ads for years…….

The social-media maneuvers simply signal advertisers are following consumer behavior. A recent survey from Lightspeed Research estimated that nearly two-thirds of viewers aged 18 to 34 who plan to watch the Super Bowl also plan to make use of a smartphone. Of those with a smartphone, 59% will be sending emails or text messages about the game, 18% will be checking out ads online from their phones, and 18% will visit advertiser websites. Almost a third, or 32%, will be posting comments about the game on a social network, according to the survey.

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Twitter launches Connections feature

Shows users a list of ‘followers’ they have in common with the user of the Twitter profile they’re visiting

By Juan Carlos Perez

IDG News Service – Twitter has launched a feature designed to show users common contacts and thus serve as a mechanism to suggest people to follow.

Now, when a user visits another’s profile, a section called Connections displays their shared followers, as well as the people whom they both follow.

Twitter spokeswoman Carolyn Penner announced the launch of Connections through her Twitter feed on Wednesday. “From, you can now see connections that you share w/ a specific user when you go to that user’s profile,” she wrote.

Other social media and social-networking services, including Facebook, have similar variations of this feature, all intended to motivate users to expand their list of contacts from among shared “friends” or “followers.”

The more contacts someone has on services like Twitter and Facebook, the more engaged they are likely to become with that particular service, something that was a challenge for Twitter at one point early on, because many users signed up, looked around and didn’t come back.

This week, Experian reported that the number of monthly U.S. adult visitors to fell 14% in November 2010 compared with November 2009.

However, those who visit are doing so more often and are spending more time on the site per month, from an average 1 hour and 51 minutes in November 2009 to an average of 2 hours and 12 minutes in November 2010, according to Experian.

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Super Bowl Advertisers Are Super Busy


Each year, it seems that the efforts by marketers to gain attention for what they are doing on Super Bowl Sunday start earlier than the year before. It is not unlike how reporters write each year that retailers seem to be starting the Christmas shopping season earlier than the year before.

This year, however, the Super Bowl front-running truly seems more pronounced than usual. Part of that reflects the robust interest among advertisers in buying commercial time before, during and after the game, which reflects the improvement in the economy.

The early start also reflects the significantly increased presence of advertisers in social media like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

The idea goes something like this: If consumers are willing to start visiting Web sites to get previews of and sneak peaks at Super Bowl Sunday campaigns, why not take advantage of that?

Underlining that is an announcement that Visa is to make on Friday morning about a partnership with the National Football League and Twitter to sponsor an official online destination for Twitter content related to Super Bowl XLV.

The content will be found at and the goal is to collect and curate Twitter comments about the game, the league (@nfl) and the two teams playing, the Green Bay Packers (@packers) and the Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers).

Visa is calling the effort “Go Inside Super Bowl XLV With Visa.” There will also be a special Twitter feed from Visa (@VisaNFL).

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Intel’s ‘Chase’ Tops Verizon iPhone Spot on Viral Video Chart

NEW YORK ( — With 1.8 million YouTube views and its first entry onto the chart, Intel’s “Chase” mini-movie makes it to the straight to the top for a good reason — it’s a great action flick with a sexy heroine and two leather-jacket-and-gold-chains bad guys. The campaign won 1.1 million views in its first week alone.

The characters run, drive, fight and jump in and out of almost every kind of computer application possible from iTunes to Facebook to Microsoft Office to Adobe Creative Suite and beyond, the leaps reminiscent of another chart-topper — “The Digital Story of the Nativity“.

How did Intel shoulder its way onto the chart and stomp some old standbys from Blendtec, Evian and DC Shoes, as well as the hot viral brand video du jour for the upcoming Verizon iPhone? There are seven different videos for the campaign; looking at the growth curve of the original, there was sharp spike on the Jan. 18 and tappers off on the Jan. 19, indicating likely paid promotion two weeks after the campaign began.

Still, if paid placements gave it a start, “Chase” probably won on its own merits. It was filmed on location in Prague and created by independent San Francisco ad agency Venables Bell & Partners. Remember, this is an ad for a company without a consumer-facing product — an “ingredient” brand. So what are they selling? “We want to achieve a greater emotional connection with the consumer,” said Intel media relations manager David Dickstein. “When people shop for technology, when they see Intel, we want them to have a favorable feeling.”

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Is Google Biased? Sure It Is. But Good Luck Proving It

Search bias. Search neutrality. Search integrity. The debate over bias in search results has never been hotter. Is Google’s ranking system corrupt in favor of its own properties? Maybe, but the task of proving that is a cast-iron bitch and it should be least of your concerns.

In the last few weeks, an ongoing investigation into Google’s practices by the European Union and, at home, by the Federal Trade Commission has had the searcharati buzzing. As Google went to Washington in an effort to explain its lack of bias, a survey surfaced announcing that Americans oppose government regulation of search engines and another “study” was released attempting to prove Google’s bias.

It’s a fine mess we are in. The answers won’t come easy but clearly something has to change. Now that the CEO father figure is on the way out and the kids are back in charge, maybe it will.

Infinitely complex
Search algorithms are complex. Very few people understand them and even fewer can decode them. Remember all the publicity Google got with its complicated math problem recruitment billboards? The answer to Google’s question on the 2004 billboard was You’re welcome.

Elitist hiring practices may have led to a genius monoculture but as I’ve said many times, many ways over the last many years: No one understands how it works and only one private entity dominates and controls it. Said entity can change the rules anytime it wants and decides what is right and wrong. That, my friends, is at the heart of the problem.

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How a Blog Went From Zero to AdAge 100 in Nine Months

The success of {grow} has been stranger than science fiction and a wonderful surprise.  In less than nine months, it’s rocketed up the charts from being unranked to as high as 65 on the Ad Age list of global marketing blogs.

My friend Adam Vincenzini recently asked me to describe the keys to this success. I’m not sure I can — which I understand is a wholly unacceptable answer! But I can certainly describe what I have LEARNED.

First you should understand that the Ad Age list is not necessarily a reflection on the quality or even the popularity of a blog, including mine.

Blog alchemy

The list is comprised of five individual scores which together create a somewhat controversial alchemy of algorithms. Only one of these five scores is tangentially associated with reader engagement as expressed by number of tweets, comments, etc.  If rated only on engagement, my blog would be in the top 25 of all marketing blogs … thanks to YOU!

The Power 150 ranking is also highly dependent on historical back links, directory submissions and other SEO blogging devices.  That puts a new blogger at a permanent disadvantage. Older blogs will probably always be at the top of the list no matter how hard anybody works on their blog in the future.

A very real example of this — there is one blog in the Top 100 that has not been updated for two years!   Based on this strange scoring system, I would guess top guns like Chris Brogan or Copyblogger could never write a post again and still not drop out of the Top 10! I think it would be more fair to have some sort of running average based on the last 12 months.

But however flawed the system may be, it is the most noteworthy and prestigious system around.   And I also think it passes the “sniff” test — if you look at the blogs at the top, I think most professionals would concur that yes, they reflect some of the best blogs out there. So, I’m honored to be part of it.

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This Morning’s Top 3 Stories in Social Media & Business

Welcome to this morning’s edition of “First To Know,” a series in which we keep you in the know on what’s happening in the digital world. We’re keeping our eyes on three particular stories of interest today.

Obama: “We Are a Nation of Google and Facebook”

In addressing American innovation in the State of the Union Address, President Obama called America a nation of Google and Facebook. The mention is significant not only because Obama has been known for leveraging social media, but also because Google announced many job openings Tuesday — and it’s no coincidence that President Obama mentioned the word jobs 25 times in his address.

Twitter Now Worth $4 Billion

Twitter’s market value has reached $4 billion, according to SharesPost, a secondary market for buying and selling stock in privately held companies.

Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook Fan Page Hacked

Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook fan page appears to have been hacked. A message calling on the company to transform into a “social business” was quickly removed (together with the fan page), but not before receiving more than 1,800 “likes” and hundreds of comments.

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Facebook Turns the ‘Like’ Into Its Newest Ad

Say Something About a Brand? It Could End Up as an Ad in Your Friends’ Feeds

SAN FRANCISCO ( — The ubiquitous “like” is currency for brands, and Facebook is giving them a new way to collect: an ad unit that shows up on the right-hand side of the screen it calls “sponsored stories.”

The unit will give brand-related action such as a “like” or a check-in a lot more visibility on Facebook by adding them to an ad unit in addition to users’ news feeds.

For example, if Starbucks buys a “sponsored story” ad, the status of a user’s friends who check into or “like” Starbucks will run twice: once in the user’s news feed, and again as a paid ad for Starbucks. Though clearly marked with the words “sponsored story,” the ad — which will includes a user’s name, just like the news feed — is not optional for Facebook users.

The product itself is broken into four possible buys for advertisers — page likes and check-ins, and actions Facebook is calling “application play” and “page posts.”

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Microsoft’s Top Marketer Talks Kin, Kinect and New Ad Partners

On the Eve of a $1B Media Review, Mich Mathews Explains Her View of Changing World

LOS ANGELES ( — What is Microsoft, which has just thrown its $1 billion media account into review, looking for in an agency partner? Less tech support and more collaboration on big ideas for starters, said marketing chief Mich Mathews.

The same week Microsoft placed its choice account into review, Ms. Mathews raised eyebrows in the ad world with remarks made during a panel at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Speaking about the cost and time effectiveness of first-to-market campaigns like its ad on a Vanity Fair iPad app during last summer’s World Cup, Ms. Mathews expressed concern over the long process through which it took her and her agency partners to execute.

“After that I looked at it and thought, ‘Wow, it might be more powerful and cost-effective if we hire one guy to do this in India, and we would’ve just cranked that out,” Ms. Mathews said. “‘Should I be handling that in-house, or am I looking to completely change the structure of my service partners so we can be agile and do these things together?'”

Microsoft’s media-agency review is described by Ms. Mathews as “standard operating procedure,” and nothing personal against the incumbent, Interpublic Group of Cos.’ Universal McCann, which is expected to defend. But the challenges she faces as she evaluates her future agency relationships are the ones faced by all marketers in 2011, she said.

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