Pepsi’s Absence in Super Bowl No Big Deal

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thumbnailCAPW08TKPepsi’s Super Bowl streak came to end this year, after advertising in the last 24 big games. Instead, the Purchase, NY-based bottler launched The Pepsi Refresh Project, an online campaign that will award more than $20 million this year to fund ideas that improve America’s communities. Visitors to the Web site can submit ideas and cast votes for their favorite projects. So far, 729 ideas have been submitted.

More than 100 million people watched this year’s Super Bowl, so advertising during the game is a no brainer. Ads are super expensive however, about $2.6 million every 30 seconds. Giant budgets usually win the day while smaller marketers sit by the sidelines. But going big is not always best.

Why advertise during the Super Bowl? It’s done basically to make a splash. More like a flash in the pants. These ads must appeal to a wide audience given the broad demographics watching the game, so creativity is a must for success. Humor usually does best, but there are many memorable ads over the years that weren’t funny. More importantly, an ad must propel a viewer to action, either through a purchase or some kind of response. This can be difficult when trying to be all things to all people.

The Super Bowl is not all about brand building. It’s more like brand launching. It takes more than a 30-second spot to build a brand. Marketers like Pepsi already have global brand awareness, so skipping the Super Bowl ad frenzy won’t ultimately affect the bottler’s core strategy. Companies like Go Daddy got famous because of its Super Bowl debut, using sex to sell their message. Sex sells, not matter what’s being advertised.

Pepsi’s move to forgo the Super Bowl demonstrates a deeper shift in corporate advertising, focusing on Internet-based, cause-orientated campaigns, which are not necessarily the place for big game ads. It also points to a changing media landscape, where consumers are getting more of their news and information online, moving away from TV and the 30-second commercial. Only time will gauge the success of The Pepsi Refresh Project. The fact is Pepsi has broken away from the status quo and positioned itself as a marketing pioneer. Consumers now need to follow suit and make this project a true success.

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