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How PepsiCo Uses AdTech to Create Spectacular Campaigns

17 May 2019

Drinks companies have always been big innovators in adtech. From gin advertisements that appear on billboards according to the outdoor temperature to snowing billboards, marketers for drinks companies really seem to kick it out of the park.  While customers may traditionally prefer Coke to Pepsi, Pepsi is rapidly gaining traction. Over the last few years they have heavily invested in  Adtech and innovation, and have been using technology in a myriad of creative ways. Let’s take a look:

Virtual Reality

Remember when it felt for a brief period of time that VR was everywhere and anywhere and it just might go mainstream? Ok, let’s face it, it didn’t really happen, but Google teamed up with Pepsi to create “Pepsi Go Back” during the 2018 Superbowl, a WebVR experience where fans travel through time and step into Pepsi commercials that became some of their biggest pop culture milestones. Fans could “Hop into the driver’s seat of Jeff Gordon’s car and hold on tight as you race against the “Back to the Future” DeLorean.”


Viewers could also look around, interact with different parts of the experience and unlock cool stuff. While not everyone has smart glasses or a VR enabled laptop, the advertising shows that the tech and the consumer experience are not only achievable but also successful.


Augmented Reality

This summer Pepsi has gone all out with its #summergram campaign. Bottles are equipped with QR codes. Consumers can scan the code with their camera phone, to automatically open Instagram Stories and unlock a unique AR filter and statement. The campaign includes giant inflatable icons and digital billboards.


In London, JCDecaux worked with Pepsi to create bus shelter campaigns with a difference. Passers-by were able to witness a number of surrealistic and unbelievable street scene scenarios, where New Oxford Street was invaded by computer-generated flying-saucers, a giant robot with laser eyes and more. JCDecaux Innovate placed a camera on the external face of the shelter, live streaming on its internal face what the camera was recording. Because of the high definition of the camera, people thought it was a normal glass window, and were thus surprised/terrified/amused by the scenes happening.  A video of the campaign has been viewed by over 8 million people:

Augmented Intelligence

PepsiCo has been using Platform Ada which creates “augmented intelligence” that relies on human’s insight in combination with algorithms. Ada collects data from a variety of sources to enable PepsiCo to get the value of data analysis within its innovation, design, R&D and pricing departments. Alongside identifying scaled and targeted opportunities, Ada is similarly intended to help PepsiCo get smarter in multiple ways through a mix of machine learning and growing human knowledge.


Can smart contracts solve the problem of ad fraud? Peps thinks so. Reports this month surfaced that Pepsi partnered with media agency Mindshare, blockchain technicians Ziliquia and others to create the Proton project to find out. The project used smart contracts that enable businesses to only pay for authentic and brand safe ad impression free from ad fraud, thus saving money and increasing transparency. The pilot took place in March in the Asia Pacific region and resulted in a 28% increase in efficiency in terms of the cost for viewable impressions. PepsiCo is now looking into conducting further test campaigns.

However Creativity and Innovation Don’t Always Succeed


It’s not been all roses for the company. PepsiCo Russia’s Adrenaline Rush brand nearly became the first example of ad tech in space. They planned to partner with Russian startup,  StarRocket,  who had a dream to launch dozens of tiny CubeSats into orbit 280 miles above land in a single rocket. These CubeSats would fly in formation as an orbital billboard to send the sun’s light to Earth. Each sail could be controlled independently, so the CubeSats act like programmable pixels. News of the idea was met with robust criticism from consumers and space technologists and so the concept was (excuse the pun) canned.

Perhaps their most disastrous campaign of late was surprisingly low-fi, a commercial with  Kendal Jenner in 2017 leading to widespread derision and criticism for its misappropriate of aspects of the black lives matter movement. Re-live the horror and be glad you didn’t create it:

It’s clear that PepsiCo is all in when it comes to tech, data and marketing. According to The Drum, PepsiCo is currently building out an in-house team dedicated to bridging data with media planning in anticipation of the company’s “data-driven future”, with roles in CRM, digital, data management, shopper marketing and adtech. It will be interesting who these roles attract and what new ideas they generate. PepsiCo has been a definitive leader in its use of emerging and innovative technologies, and have paved the way for even greater users of tech in interesting ways.

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