The Super Bowl, through its history of over-hyped blowouts, wardrobe malfunctions, and occasional nail-biting finishes, consistently delivers one thing: a truly enormous audience. No matter what they manufactured or sold, advertisers knew there were future customers lurking among the mass millions tuned in to football’s biggest game.
This year, PepsiCo did a strange thing: It took an end run around the old guard. Instead of doling out millions for a raft of 30-second advertisements, the second-largest soft drink company in the world devoted $20 million to a campaign as far removed from the tradition of Super Bowl spending as Brett Favre is from his youth. Weary of beaming its message to the pizza-addled millions, PepsiCo created the Refresh project, an online philanthropy initiative in which individuals, businesses, and non-profits pitch ideas slated to have a positive impact on the world, and website visitors vote for their favorite ones. Thus, Pepsi can fund worthy causes even as it builds relationships with customers and prospective customers alike.
And when one of the biggest manufacturing companies on earth passes up one of the planet’s biggest opportunities to reach customers, it leaves no doubt that times have changed.
Being Attentive to Customers