Memetic Pepsi: Somewhere between Mintos & A Cure for Cancer

UPDATE, April 2010:  Could it be?  Is Pepsi listening?  What do you think of Pepsi foregoing the traditional Superbowl ad and stepping up with its REFRESH program?  For details on REFRESH catch this series by a group of my HumberPR students.  Kudos to Pepsi and Weber Shandwick.

ORIGINAL POST:

Hot selling book authors Seth Godin & Jonathan Salem Baskin, who both released manifestos in ChangeThis’ 50th issue (I was fortunate to have my manifesto released @ along with theirs), have picked up on Pepsi’s recent announcement that they are going to “pour some $1.2 billion over three years into a push that will include sweeping changes to its brands“.

Seth’s “punchline is: take the time and money and effort you’d put into an expensive logo and put them into creating a product and experience and story that people remember instead.”   He has a corner on the whole idea of making products remarkable that is well worth following.

Jonathan finds it “stunning that nobody is asking these businesses why they aren’t focusing on making cola relevant again.”  It is a great post.  Check it out. The bit that really got me noodling was:

“Use or need cases are used in technology development to identify the places and times  people might require a software product or widget.  That approach to the mechanics of consumption is based on actual experience, not imagined desires or emotional associations, so the strategy doesn’t start with brand…but certainly impacts it.”

Can we use this notion of memetic brand to get more prescriptive if we are sitting in boardrooms with folks like Pepsi?

The money quote from Introducing Social Capital Value Add would probably be a bad place to start:

“Social capital means far more to Coca-Cola than Coca-Cola means to social capital.”

Ah, that might just get you the door before you had a chance to get the account!  So perhaps it would be good to start with a little illustration of the difference between being “viral” and “memetic”.

I bet the traditional brand folks over a Coke have been counting all that “free advertising” they have been racking up since someone discovered what happens when you drop a mintos into a bottle of diet coke.  That is, after they took weeks to stop hand-wringing about what such an image does to “the brand”.

Now that is entertainment! I love it! Millions of views. Probably billions now that dudes like me are clipping it into web pages all over the internet. But is it selling Diet Coke? Hmmm …. maybe a little bit. That awareness and repetition is not likely hurting any. But I am pretty sure that this isn’t the stuff that is going to effect market share, or share of stomach or any of the other fun ways to measure soda pop.

So how about something that can be remarkable, address needs and mobilize the entire Pepsi ecosystem towards something amazing?

I am certain that there are many memetic approaches and I would very much appreciate it if you could jot down your thoughts below.  I admit it.  I am a bit stuck on this idea of a relationship between altruism and corporate motivations.

I think that I would like to present the folks at Pepsi with some case studies and trend analysis of approaches like the one the folks at TripAdvisor are taking.  I have some criticism of the execution and if TripAdvisor is still burning VC money, god bless ‘em.  The trick is to go beyond feel good CSR tactics and tie this into your mission and maybe even your business model if possible.

Then maybe we could get some serious new thinking about how to change the game with Pepsi.  How about a crazy idea like committing Pepsi to being a cure for cancer?  That just popped into my head as something provocative to help reboot thinking and then, as I sifted though my reader while procrastinating on writing this post I picked up this link from June Avila on the MaRs Innovation & Commercialization Blog:

Better Beer: College Team Creating Anticancer Brew

Yes.  Still seems off the wall, but somewhere between mintos & the cure for cancer there is a better way.

7 Responses to “Memetic Pepsi: Somewhere between Mintos & A Cure for Cancer”

  1. Memetic Pepsi: Somewhere between Mintos amp; A Cure for Cancer | Says:

    [...] th­e­ re­s­t h­e­re­: Memetic Pepsi: Somewh­er­e b­etween­­ Min­­tos amp; A Cu­r&#… « THE Coca-Cola Company vows continued support to 7th Asian Forum on Corporate Social [...]

  2. Current Cancer Research and Information » Memetic Pepsi: Somewhere between Mintos & A Cure for Cancer Says:

    [...] Memetic Pepsi: Somewhere between Mintos & A Cure for Cancer By Michael G. Cayley How about a crazy idea like committing Pepsi to being a cure for cancer? That just popped into my head as something provocative to help reboot thinking and then, as I sifted though my reader while procrastinating on writing this post I … Memetic Brand - http://memeticbrand.com/ [...]

  3. Jonathan Salem Baskin Says:

    Michael, great post! You’ve elevated what started as a riff on odd branding to a conversation about business strategy. Wouldn’t it be cool if Pepsi listened (it must have some social media trolling software preparing a report for its PR department, so somebody will know, right?).

  4. Justin Boland Says:

    Pepsi is worthy of the corporate death penalty. I think someone asking about “making cola relevant again” is one of the most disturbed and inhuman quotes I’ve read in awhile. Their product is poison, plain and simple. They don’t have a healthy customer base because their productive is actively doing damage to their customer’s bodies.

    Cola is a sad testament to the power of marketing: repeat anyhting often enough and it becomes normal.

    None of this is intentended as a criticism of your post, however. I really dig where you took this and it’s an ethical example of the kind of thinking that turns things around, for the better. I would rather see an aggregation of capital the size of Pepsi do a transition, than bleed out billions for another 2 decades and eventually collapse.

    Once we can talk Wal-Marts into providing free medical care, I will ease up on my “corporate death penalty” rap.

  5. Michael G. Cayley Says:

    Justin and Jonathan,

    Sorry that is took so long to approve your comments!

    Thank you!

    mc

  6. Signal of Altruistic Type and Corporate Motivations | Social Capital Value Add Says:

    [...] UPDATE: More on memetic branding & altruism … Memetic Pepsi. [...]

  7. Memetic Brand » A Worthy Request: Signal of Altruistic Type Says:

    [...] Memetic Pepsi: Somewhere between Mintos & A Cure for Cancer [...]

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