Social v Tradition
Mark Ritson’s column on the failure of Pepsi’s social media strategy to drive sales compared with Coca-Cola’s successful use of traditional media prompted a flurry of debate on the value of social media. Read the column at www.mwlinks.co.uk/RitsonCocaCola and see comment extracts below.
I disagree with your statement that “its advantages and applications have been wildly overstated”. I think Pepsi went wrong by abruptly moving 50% of its marketing budget into social media. I think the right approach would have been to test the waters first by launching small efforts and seeing where that takes them. To blindly jump in and change your marketing strategy that drastically is ridiculous and I’m not surprised one bit that they lost market share.
It was the message that failed, not the medium. Pepsi chose to market a movement instead of any emotional connection to their brand or the value of their cola over Coca-Cola’s.
Meanwhile, Coca-Cola focused on its larger emotional marketing message of “happiness” and refreshment and integrated this into its social media strategy of empowering their fans to spread “happiness” about the brand. Pretty simple and classic approach. Put your fans first and they will do your heavy lifting and celebrate (and market) your brand for you.
I wouldn’t be so quick to say that what failed here is “the message”. Pepsi Refresh was driven by Pepsi’s social listening. The message came from insights and listening, which is key in creating a successful social media programme.
The message resonated with a lot of people. If it hadn’t, 80 million-plus people wouldn’t have participated in the voting. So it’s not the message that failed. Instead, it’s more so that the strategy was too lopsided in favour of social, and not well balanced in other places.