The "Almost Perfect" Marketing Campagin

Good marketing often comes from an interdisciplinary approach. When companies combine current trends with their brand, they are able to leverage the popularity and appreciation associated with these trends. Sometimes these campaigns are very successful, but sometimes they can go wrong too!

Pepsi is a brand that has global recognition. We often see Pepsi sponsoring big events and airing commercials during the Super Bowl. A few years ago, however, Pepsi decided to ride the crowd-funding wave. They decided to stop spending millions of dollars on fancy Super Bowl commercials and instead started ‘The Refresh Project’. This initiative allowed consumers to vote for charities to which Pepsi would collectively donate twenty million dollars.

Many would assume that Pepsi’s bold move would have seen instant success. A large corporate player pledging twenty million dollars to charity instead of spending on advertising was unheard of. The combination of this donation with crowd-funding and having people get involved in who the money would be pledged to was fun and innovative. The project saw some traction (a 37%  campaign awareness observed in America)  and eventually was pulled due to allegations of fraud and Pepsi’s slipping market share.

Another example of an almost perfect campaign that ended up going south is U2’s collaboration with Apple. Many of us who own iPhones were casually greeted by the new U2 album available in the purchased section of iTunes. What is interesting is that we didn’t pay for it! U2 made a deal with Apple, a sort of publicity stunt, to market their new album. The campaign hoped to engage consumers by giving them a free product, and delivering it with ease. We essentially got this album for free, with no effort at all. But people weren't happy. The campaign was seen an intrusive and a little forceful. Bono, lead singer of U2, later agreed that the campaign may have failed! ‘Free’ and ‘Easy’ doesn’t always work.

Good marketing needs to have a two sided effect. At the end of the day, if a marketing campaign is engaging consumers well but not driving up profits or market share, it can be seen as flawed. A good marketing campaign should have both qualities.


Written by Stanford Marketing's Udit Goyal