Pepsi Ditches the Super Bowl, Embraces Crowdsourced Philanthropy Instead


Sorry, Super Bowl ad lovers. Instead of spending millions on commercials for this year's game, Pepsi is putting its cash in the Refresh Project, an online cause marketing campaign that asks readers how the company should give away its grant money.

Starting February 1, readers can vote to give grants to a number of health, environment, culture, and education-related organizations. Pepsi plans to give away multiple grants each month, including two $250,000 grants, 10 $50,000 grants, and 10 $25,000 grants. Visitors are also encouraged to submit their own organizations and grant ideas.

Is this just a cost-cutting move for Pepsi? Partially. Pepsi spent $33 million on Super Bowl advertising last year, and the Refresh Project will cost $20 million. Instead of blowing the cash on a single night of football, Pepsi's investment will attract visitors throughout the year. The project will also have the potential to reach an audience that might not check out Pepsi's famous Super Bowl commercials. Regardless of its motives, Pepsi's initiative is another step towards the mainstreaming of crowdsourced philanthropy. First Chase, now Pepsi...could it be long before Coke gets on board?

[Via Environmental Leader]

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  • Richart Ruddie

    We think that it was a smart move for Pepsi to embrace a wide range of marketing for the super bowl since the super bowlfootball odds always seem to work against a consumer staple like pepsi and coca-cola for all of the money that they spend it gets blurred and forgotten rather quickly in my opinion.

  • Michael Nurse

    possibly the smartest thing about this move is that it shows empathy with the american (and global) people who are struggling through this tough economy. Rather than being seen as another big spending brand buying up expensive superbowl ads, pepsi will be perceived as trading that in to make a substantive contribution to society. nice

  • Whitney Hoffman

    As someone who has helped in past years behind the scenes at the Superbowl, Pepsi has been a huge sponsor of the NFL and making the Superbowl happen- I wonder if this will change as well, and how it's going to affect the way the game and surrounding hoopla is executed?

  • Craig Pelkey-Landes

    I like it! This is really one of the big up sides of having every move you make parsed in a 24/7 news cycle and in the "no hiding place" social media landscape. Doing good is good business.

  • Felix Desroches


    I don't care if it's a marketing ploy, anything to stop wasting money on the SB is fine with me.

  • Brett Beilfuss

    This is another example of a good way for a large organization to use their resources to make a difference. $23M for one day of advertising isn't the best way to connect with customers. The challenge for this initiative is for Pepsi to fund opportunities that are linked to their philosophy of youth, independence, and fun.

    Even if crowdsourcing doesn't deliver on business objectives, it certainly won't be deemed a 'failure'!

  • Mahlaqa Saeed

    This surely is Smart Marketing. Not only has Pepsi managed to touch hearts and simultaneously enhanced its corporate image, but also managed to spend wisely.