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All Press is Good Press for the Pepsi Refresh Campaign and its Triple Bottom Line loving Segment

From the Harvard Business Review:

The triple bottom line is a business concept that posits firms should commit to measuring their social and environmental impact—in addition to their financial performance—rather than solely focusing on generating profit, or the standard “bottom line” (Miller, 2020)

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In 2009 Pepsi chose to forgo the traditional Super bowl Marketing it usually participated in and instead invest that money in grants to change the world (Norton et al. 2017). The campaign lets consumers put forth ideas and vote on the winners. Then, Pepsi helped the winners carry out their initiatives by supporting them with resources and grant money. Many critics and Pepsi’s bottlers thought the campaign was pointless. Pepsi’s principal marketing objective was to maintain its Baby Boomer segment and engage more Millennials to drink Pepsi.

I believe the campaign was a success, though soda drinking was steadily decreasing in general before the campaign (Norton et al., 2017). This issue may stem from new health initiatives from the white house or other changes to packaging that happened concurrently, along with a new attitude about health in the United States (Norton et al., 2017).

Although Pepsi didn’t participate in the Super Bowl, it garnered a significant amount of earned media from its refusal in advertising. Coke still engaged in Super Bowl advertising and even purchased extra time slots during the game, gaining 390,000 new fans on its Facebook page, while Pepsi acquired 300,000 during the same time (Norton et al., 2017). This result alone is an exceptional outcome, but does it drive sales? I can’t say for sure, and at the time, Pepsi was not yet seeing the rewards of its good deeds. Luckily for Pepsi, Millennials, the world’s largest living generation, and favorite marketing segment, love the triple bottom line! This realization was one executives of Pepsi already knew from its previous research (Norton et al. 2017).

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Additionally, research has shown that businesses that utilize the triple bottom line approach create a strong competitive edge. According to Aflac (2019) “77% of consumers are more willing to purchase from a company with a CSR pledge.” Corporate social responsibility is crucial to consumers. The Pepsi Refresh Project maintained its genuine intentions by focusing on those values rather than focusing on sales. Looking at current company reports one can see that Pepsi is doing better than ever. A Statista analysis by Conway (2020) declares “PepsiCo has increased its global net revenues from 39.47 billion U.S. dollars in 2007 to more than 70 billion U.S. dollars in 2020.” It appears the campaign wasn’t detrimental to Pepsi, and it has also helped the company continue to grow successfully despite lowered soda consumption. Likely, one main cause was better brand positioning among consumers.

Strange how doing good for the world seems to do well for everyone…

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