Best Business Neighbor Award-Finalist, PepsiCo

Finalist: PepsiCo

The Pepsi Refresh Project (PRP) is supporting innovative ideas in communities throughout the United States. Each month in 2010, Pepsi awarded $1.2 million via 30+ grants, ranging from $5,000 to $250,000, to organizations and individuals bringing great ideas to life. In 2010 1,000+ grantees across 43 states received funding and more than $20 million dollars in grant money was distributed.

Grant recipients – who become finalists by winning a crowd-sourced voting process online – range from national organizations such as Teach for America to local entrepreneurs like 13-year-old Jonny Cohen, but they are all working towards improving America’s communities through collaboration and innovation.

Beyond the impressive dollar amount of grants, the trickle-down effect into the grant-winning communities is immeasurable.

Beyond the impressive dollar amount of grants, the trickle-down effect into the grant-winning communities is immeasurable .

In July, 2010, Pepsi launched a second competition, “Do Good for the Gulf,” which awarded an additional $1.3 million to projects working to help communities impacted by the Deep Water Horizon oil spill.

The grants are touching diverse groups at the community level, from volunteers to local businesses buoyed by the influx of funds and attention.

Pepsi bottlers and field representatives have supported individual organizations in their communities as they moved from voting to implementation.

The Overall Strategy

The PRP was, and is, an integral part of Pepsi’s brand strategy. It provides positive reputational positioning for Pepsi and its parent, PepsiCo.

The campaign is participatory, requiring winners to mobilize supporters and actively seek votes. The Pepsi brand benefits from this via increased visibility on social media networks and in participating locations.

Pepsi estimates that the PRP generated over 3 billion audience impressions, 140,000+ Tweets, and 2 million Facebook “likes” in 2010.

By creating lasting investments in communities across the nation Pepsi is increasing its brand equity and cultivating new consumers. Pepsi funds projects in all regions of the country, improving its overall visibility and presence in the marketplace. Pepsi employees are eligible to win and have often participated in implementing and celebrating involved program.

The 2011 program was refined to even more effectively target the use of funds and engage consumers in new and innovative ways.

Pepsi introduced Pepsi Power Votes, or codes found on the caps of specially-marked Pepsi products. Consumers log onto and enter the codes for up to 100 extra votes per cap.

This program is designed to drive sales of Pepsi products directly from the Pepsi Refresh Project platform for the first time.

Measuring Success

Success can be broken down by the amount of funds disbursed, by the amount of visibility the program has generated, and by the measurable social impacts stemming directly from the Pepsi Refresh Project.

Funds Distributed:

In 2010 the Pepsi Refresh Project supported over 1,000 grantees and disbursed over $20 million of grant awards in the following areas (amount disbursed in $millions):

  • Health: 77 projects, $5.56 disbursed
  • Education: 106 projects, $4.33 disbursed
  • Neighborhoods: 88 projects, $2.60 disbursed
  • The Gulf: 31 projects, $1.30 disbursed
  • Food & Shelter: 47 projects, $1.20 disbursed
  • Arts & Culture: 37 projects, $1.17 disbursed
  • Planet: 29 projects, $1.00 disbursed

Web Traffic and Visibility:

The Pepsi Refresh website received more than 80 million votes in 2010 and had 1.8 million unique visitors to the site each month.

In total there were over 183,000 ideas submitted. These statistics represent more votes than any presidential candidate has received in history and more ideas submitted than American Idol tryouts.

Marketing Evolutions reported that 37% of Americans are now aware of the Pepsi Refresh Project versus 12-21% for similar cause marketing programs and correct knowledge of the program is 25% (versus 5 – 12% for other programs).

Social Impacts:

In 2010, 62 organizations were started and 123 schools were improved. A total of $1.94 million was given to parks and playgrounds. In addition, as a result of the project, 30,000 people volunteered in their communities and 163,000 lives were directly impacted.

Real success, however, can be measured by the stories of grant recipients, many of them long-time and loyal Pepsi customers, which reveal the truly broad scope of the project.

Diverse groups of people are benefiting from this unique initiative, from soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq receiving care packages to teachers improving their classrooms. It is unmistakably evident from these stories that the overarching goal of this project – to improve communities – is being met.