Positioning itself as the optimistic catalyst for idea creation, the Pepsi Refresh Project (PRP) invites the public to Do Good. An exercise in digital media democracy; using social and earned media to engage and empower consumers, Pepsi has made the process engaging and asked those with ideas to harness the power of their networks - over 12,000 projects to date having motivated and received more than 76 million votes from the American public.

The Project drives conversation and builds credibility in the social enterprise and innovation arenas through a dynamic, real time “campaign” which democratizes the process of turning ideas into reality, earning more than 3 billion audience impressions to-date positively enhancing the Pepsi brand. Recent data from Marketing Evolutions reveals that knowledge of PRP (36%) remains high compared to comparable social innovation campaigns.


To have an impact, Pepsi needed to evolve the Refresh Everything campaign, launched in 2009, to turn good ideas into action. The following research and statistics were consulted in developing the Pepsi Refresh Project:
• Today's consumers scrutinize every dollar they spend – much less give (Iconoculture). 84% of consumers want to select their own causes; 83% say personal relevance is key (2008 Cone Cause Evolution Study).
• 95% of Millennials were still very optimistic about their lives- despite what was happening around them (2008 Pepsi Optimism Project). 94% percent of Americans agreed that optimism is important in creating ideas that can have a positive impact, and the best ideas come from “normal people” (66%) versus public figures (2009 Pepsi Optimism Project).
• Based on these findings, Pepsi needed to create a forum off and online where social innovation could become personal and help move ideation to implementation in a worthwhile, fun and contagious context.


The Pepsi Refresh Project was designed to give away more than $20 million in the U.S. to fund good ideas, big and small, that move communities forward. With roles clearly defined by the client, Edelman and Weber Shandwick collaborated closely and formed a nearly seamless team to support implementation and meet the communication objectives of the Pepsi program.

Objective 1: Raise awareness and interest in the Pepsi Refresh Project; Position Pepsi as the optimistic catalyst for idea creation with consistency and alignment of program messages across all media channels
Objective 2: Generate a steady stream of national, local and online media buzz to support business and brand goals
Objective 3: Drive Americans to RefreshEverything.com to register and submit their ideas or vote and promote ideas that they care about

Audience Analysis

PRP targeted U.S. Millennial, Gen Y, and Boomer men and women. For Boomers to Millennials, positive change is a priority. Nearly two-thirds (71%) of people globally believe brands spend too much on marketing and should invest more in good causes. Consumers will not only recommend brands that support good causes (64%), but more than half (59%) will then help that brand promote its products (2009 Good Purpose Study).


Edelman and Weber Shandwick worked with Pepsi and agency partners to create a strong communications plan to drive media and voting around the launch of PRP:
• Create intellectual capital around “where ideas come from”; position Pepsi as a credible motivator to empower the everyday American to be the next social entrepreneur.
• Cast a national spotlight on the implementation of ideas for refreshing change by announcing the diversion of funds to implement the Project.
• Collaborate with employees, bottling and retail partners to generate local news angles, drive awareness
• Raise awareness and increase participation at grassroots level through Hispanic and English language press.
• Promote RefreshEverything.com as the online destination; encourage individuals to submit ideas and vote
• Encourage online engagement with the Project on Facebook or on Twitter
• Develop national partnerships to raise broad awareness of the Project to tell stories of Project impact and reach.


Dividing roles along client approved boundaries, Edelman and Weber Shandwick oversaw the following program elements that led to a successful media relations campaign this year with the Pepsi Refresh Project:
• Research: Published Op-Ed from CMO Jill Beraud on HuffingtonPost
• Media Blitzes: Conducted media relations surrounding milestones: POP, Super Bowl, Ambassadors, Grant recipients
• RefreshEverything.com: Positioned as premiere resource for consumer-generated ideas.
• Idea Kick-Off: CEO and PRP team rang NYSE opening bell to signify opening of PRP. Leveraged celebrity spokespeople for brainstorm with in-house and online audiences to ignite idea conversation on national scale.
• Refresh Challenges: Worked with popular culture influencers to generate their own ideas for PRP Grants in collaboration with SxSW, NFL.com, MLB.com, US Men’s National Team, Nascar.com.
• Engagement Events: Collaborated with celebrities, performing artists to inspire youth to develop ideas.
• Do Good For the Gulf: Doubled commitment of PRP in support of ideas to refresh Gulf communities
• Thought Leadership: Hosted Social Good Conversation with philanthropy influencers; speaking opportunities
• Digital Engagement: Monitored conversation provided real-time responses, fostered dialogue, engaged key voices


Objective 1: Raise awareness and interest in PRP
• Pepsi became one of the most talked-about brands at Super Bowl despite not advertising (Nielsen)
• 37% of Americans now aware versus 12-21% for similar cause marketing programs (Marketing Evolutions)
• Correct PRP knowledge is 25% (versus 5 – 12%)

Objective 2: Generate a steady stream of media buzz
• Surpassed media impressions goal by nearly 12-fold, generating over 3 billion audience impressions in eight months
• More than 140,000 tweets, while Facebook “likes” have increased by more than 600% (300,000 to over 2 million)
• Interaction with refresheverything.com significantly increased brand attributes including favorability, intent, and trust along with intent to purchase among Millennials (Dynamic Logic)

Objective 3: Drive Americans to RefreshEverything.com
• Over 18 million unique visitors to RefreshEverything.com, January-November
• Over 12,000 projects have received votes
• 76 million votes cast
• 2 million online comments to date