How changing a brand sparked change in the world

If you could say anything to the President of the United States what would you say? Would you be nervous? What if you could talk to him through the comfort of your own home?

Four years ago, Pepsi provided everyone in the world with a direct line to the White House; all you needed was a camera and a computer.

Barack Obama and Pepsi



In 2009, American politics took a new turn when Obama used social media to promote himself during the election. He used Facebook and Twitter to spread awareness about his campaign, which helped to get a new audience interested in politics. Like no candidate before him, Obama harnessed technology to draw key audiences into the political world.

Obama’s use of social media worked so well that he was able to get sixty-eight percent of voters aged 18 to 29 to cast their ballots in his favour. His opponent, John McCain, for only 30 per cent of the vote.

As the world  was starting to use social media to communicate,Pepsi jumped on the bandwagon in a new and innovated way. Pepsi saw the change Obama made with social media and joined in. Pepsi launched a campaign called  “Dear Mr. President,” which allowed people to record a video message straight from an embedded banner on a standard website.
People used the direct line to the president to discuss matters that were important to them.  Some people used emotional tactics to gain recognition. This recognition allowed them to get the top spots on Pepsi’s “Refresh Everything” channel.

Other videos were short and sweet, and used more creative and visual techniques to get attention and views.

Pepsi Campaign

Other than providing people around the world with a chance to let their voices be heard, Pepsi had other subtle goals for the campaign. These goals were create awareness for their new updated brand and logo, re-establish Pepsi’s position as a youthful challenger brand, and tap into the iconic “change” social and political movement of the Obama election. Also, Pepsi wanted to foster brand community through two-way communication with customers in order to create the ultimate consumer experience.

Unique Pepsi Tactics

Pepsi used a strategy that empowered their consumers to record a webcam message directly from a video banner, encouraging them to not only interact with the banner, but actually create content and push it back to the brand.

Not only was it a chance for citizens to create their own content but Pepsi also used celebrities to persuade others to jump on the bandwagon and record a message to the president. Celebrities like Lady Gaga and delivered their own “Dear Mr. President” video messages, and visitors of the Pepsi branded YouTube channel were directed to a “Refresh Everything” Facebook profile through a link.

The campaign used paid search and display ads on both Yahoo Music and the Google Content Network to drive traffic to both the YouTube brand page and the Refresh Everything website. Other channels used included e-mail marketing and a mobile site.

The results were bigger than Pepsi ever imagined! Six million people visited Refresh Everything on Facebook, and nearly 85 per cent were from the millennial target audience. There were over 700 total video submissions, which generated 4 million views and 100,000 text submissions to YouTube.

Millions of consumers were exposed to Pepsi’s campaign by the heavy press coverage, which included over 700 blog postings.

Pepsi changed the world with this campaign. By using social media, they re-branded themselves towards a more youthful audience. In doing so, they drew that audience’s attention towards politics, which is new territory for Millennials. Leave a comment telling me your thoughts on the campaign.