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Brand Strategy Digital Transformation Festival NFTs

Pepsi marketing boss ‘bullish’ on the future of NFTs


By Hannah Bowler, Senior Reporter

March 31, 2022 | 4 min read

Pepsi’s chief marketing officer Todd Kaplan is to plough investment into NFTs and web3 activations to establish early adopter credibility. Speaking at The Drum’s DT Fest keynote session, Kaplan says Pepsi is “very bullish on the web3 space and where it’s headed.”

Todd Kaplan Pepsico

Todd Kaplan, Pepsico

“We thought it was important to get in early and establish credibility in that community and drive cultural conversations with consumers who are in the space, knowing they are going to be very knowledgeable about [which brand] was in early,” he says. “We need to start getting our feet wet and try some of these new things.”

In December, the drinks giant entered the NFT world with the release of Pepsi Mic Drop, a collection of free images of Pepsi flavors reimagined as microphones. Kaplan explains that music plays a big role in its brand ethos and equity, so it was the logical step to use that as a way to tap into NFTs.

Given out for free, the Pepsi Mic Drop NFTs quickly became the number three most traded NFT on dominant NFT marketplace OpenSea, and garnered over $7m for owners in secondary sales within 10 days.

Gifting the NFTs was an important element of Pepsi’s strategy, Kaplan explains. The driver was to “make a statement about our brand and music connecting with fans in a different way and eventually building into a community of like-minded individuals.”

Pepsi Mic Drop NFTs

For now, Pepsi is not thinking of NFTs through an ROI lens, but rather an equity-driving exercise. Since NFT collectors are part of engaged communities, Kaplan says, “as a brand builder it’s really interesting to see all these avid Pepsi fans in one place that we can eventually start talking to.”

In the long term, however, there is direct revenue to be made from NFTs once “you can crack that nut right and feel great financially and legally about how to do that,” Kaplan says.

There’s been a rush on brands getting in on the NFT hype. Alongside Pepsi, marketing giants including Nike, Coke and Burberry have all experimented to varying degrees of success. It’s a turbulent ride, but Kaplan advises those that have held back to start experimenting to begin now rather than later.

“If you wait for it to tip, you are going to be very late and playing catch-up,” he warned.

The first step is to educate and immerse stakeholders and leadership. For a brand to play in this space it needs the support of legal, IT security and finance. “There are a lot of hairy issues for companies to address and answer,” he added. “As a marketeer, your job is to help dunk the heads under the water of all the other business functions to help them see what you are seeing.”

Kaplan is ultimately “bullish on the future of this space,” seeing a future where NFTs will evolve beyond collectables to include everything from doctors’ records to gig tickets and house contracts.

However, the tech needs to improve its “clunkiness” before that happens. “The consumer experience around NFTs is horrible – it’s not a user-first experience,” he says. “The upside in this space is massive. The way it looks today, it won’t look like this in the future.”

Kaplan teased that there will be further Pepsi web3 projects coming down the line in 2022.

Brand Strategy Digital Transformation Festival NFTs

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