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PepsiCo: we need a full-on digital approach to reach our target audience

Pepsi launches AR pop concert

While every person misses a different aspect of pre-pandemic life, music lovers universally miss the live concert experience. The Drum talks to PepsiCo about its AR experiment that hopes to bring some of the musical magic back into its customers’ lives.

PepsiCo in Malaysia recently launched a campaign that uses digital technology to bring live music back into people’s lives. The brand used AR technology, linked to its bottles, to stream a concert. The main act was Siti Nordiana, supported by winners of its #PepsiBoldTalent audition challenge.

As a brand, Pepsi has a longstanding link to music, but with the pandemic halting live music and on-ground marketing activations, it had to find another way to reach its customers.

The answer was digital, according to Salman Butt, senior marketing director APAC of PepsiCo.

“Keeping the spirit of the brand alive and relevant, the Covid pandemic has led us to think differently as traditional on-ground activations and promotions were limited. We needed a full-on digital approach to reach our target audience. With some brainstorming on the digital landscape with the agency, we decided to leverage on the new era of technology to reach out to consumers who are confined to finding experiences and things to do within their home,” he explains.

Being able to bring back an experience that customers miss was another key reason the brand looked to technology. “We know that music lovers in Malaysia have been missing the concert experience for over a year due to the pandemic. These insights landed us on the big idea of taking augmented reality to the next level by bringing a concert right to your home.”

With most brands turning to digital touchpoints to reach customers that are in lockdowns or under restrictions, Butt says they had to also produce an idea that was creative enough to stand out against competing digital content.

“Digital has always been a focused channel for the brand. However, in this pandemic era, we are further leveraging digital and experimenting with new-age digital technology and platforms to reach out to consumers. This campaign is an example of that. With more brands putting a heavier focus on digital, breaking through the digital clutter via innovative campaigns will continue to be our way to stay ahead,” he explains.

In terms of how it works, Butt says users are required to visit the specific URL. Upon activating the AR camera via the website, users point the AR camera at the Pepsi Black Raspberry bottle. The AR camera then uses the Pepsi Black Raspberry packaging as a unique signature to detect and activate the concert. An AR Pepsi bottle will then appear along with the concert on the AR bottle itself.

The talent chosen for the concert was Siti Nordiana, who Butt explains was picked due to her wide appeal. She was also selected because she has a bold personality that links to its previous campaign around the ‘bold talent’ competition.

“With Siti Nordiana, we are able to reach out to a wide audience as she has a strong fan base and is very popular, as seen in her recent achievement of being the most popular female artist (Artis Top Top Meletop Wanita) in the Anugerah MeleTOP Era 2020. We also wanted to take this opportunity to be the first to showcase the bold side of Siti Nordiana, similar to how we provided a platform for the #PepsiBoldTalent winners to showcase their bold talents.”

As to whether the campaign has cut through, Butt believes the use of AR to do Malaysia’s first virtual concert in this way has caught the interest of consumers.

“Feedback has been positive and since this is the first-ever AR concert in MY, it has created a lot of buzz and excitement among the consumers to enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime experience in the comfort of their homes. This digital campaign that was specially designed to reach out to the consumers during this pandemic has ignited excitement internally in other countries,” he adds.

While music lovers will still be pining after the face-to-face experience, the brand bridging the connection with a favorite artist during the pandemic will earn them some kudos. A ‘full-on’ approach to digital and technology, in this example, has helped Pepsi to cut through when all brands are shifting to a more digital strategy.