Is Pepsi building its own social network?

Last week, Pepsi announced, that for the first time in 23 years, it would not be purchasing advertising during the 2010 televised Super Bowl.  The reason:  “In 2010, each of our beverage brands has a strategy and marketing platform that will be less about a singular event and more about a movement,” Pepsi spokeswoman Nicole Bradley said.

This is a significant shift in the stratosphere of Social Media and brands.  Basically, Pepsi is through with throwing money into one-way, 30 second ads (view Pepsi’s 2009 Super Bowl commercial), even though those 30 seconds could potentially reach 95.4 million viewers (2009 Super Bowl audience).  I applaud Pepsi for making such a bold and wise move. Pepsi’s strategy is smart: “…be less about a singular event and more about a movement.”

That movement is happening with their “Refresh Everything” campaign. I believe Pepsi is building its own Social Network: The Pepsi Refresh Project. Launching in February of 2010, the site says “A new generation is refreshing the world. Check back soon to see how you can start tagging your best content and join the fray.” There’s a millennial flavor to the site, which is appealing to this age group.

Further evidence of Pepsi’s social networking is its Facebook fan page: check out the Pepsi Refresh Everything Facebook Fan page. Highly interactive, Pepsi asks fans to play Foursquare, submit videos, and other two-way activities with Pepsi donating to charities such as City Year, which is like the Peace Corps of cities (volunteers unite to give service to a city for a full year).

Imagine a world filled with brands that no longer talk one-way but instead,  help their “tribes” (communities of fans) by promoting them and interacting with them in highly visible platforms such as Facebook fan pages; interactive websites; YouTube videos; and many other ways, while at the same time, donating to charities that improve our world.

Now THAT’S a movement.