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Impact - A Blog by INM

Pepsi Skips Super Bowl XLIV?

February 8, 2010 by Vahe Kassardjian

The talk of the town today is most definitely the buzz around the Saint’s victory in yesterday’s XLIV Super Bowl. But of almost equal discussion amongst those in the marketing community is Pepsi’s absence as an event sponsor.

In the past 20 years, Pepsi has been the single most important advertiser at the Super Bowl, spending over $135M on sponsorship. Last December, Pepsi surprised everyone by announcing that it was pulling its sponsorship and instead will give away $20M to "worthy causes", including health, arts and culture, food and shelter, the planet, neighborhoods and education.

To me, this signals two interesting trends:

  1. Mass media is really in trouble. This is far from "news" to anyone, but worth bringing up as a fair number of skeptics are still “waiting for the good times to come back after the economical crisis is over”. I am even more entrenched now in my position that new media will prevail, not necessarily due to the advancements that traditionalists expect us to deliver, but simply because the old way of doing things no longer works.
  2. Pepsi didn’t announce that they were going "2.0" or putting their ad dollars into "social networking". There is no doubt in my mind that ad dollars will progressively flow from broadcast style communications to pointcasting (a term used back in the 90s to explain personalized asymmetric communications), but it would be wrong to assume that Twittering and Facebooking are the new ways of approaching the market. They are merely transitions to better and more relevant ways of acquiring and serving new markets.

Pepsi chose a very altruistic approach, which I hope will trigger more thought around the ultimate goals of a corporate citizen in this century.