advertising and other stuff. no, really.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Pepsi gets one by.

So will others. The Pepsi Refresh project was the reason Pepsi avoided Super Bowl advertising this year, choosing instead to spend that money in a more direct way with worthwhile projects needing funding. One of the winners of some much-needed cash was science teacher Kim Wendt at Mitchell School in Racine, Wisconsin.

This is a good thing.

Having seen firsthand the fights—literally—that can break out over funding for public school initiatives, it sucks. People are all for improvements, until it comes time to pay for it out of their budget. Forget state of the art, I’m just talking about the minimum work needed to bring older buildings up to current code. There’s an educational infrastructure in the country long overdo for an overhaul.

I’m not putting any brand down for stepping in here, and Pepsi didn’t just out of the blue decide to target *just* a school with Refresh. I’m merely pointing out the potential benefit/conflict with a public school system depending on funding from consumer companies. This new *brandscape* where product lobbying takes on non-traditional forms, is also creating dilemmas for cash-strapped school board like Kim’s.

So while junk food vending machines containing soda and candy have started to be eliminated in schools, Pepsi just found a way, however indirectly, to get their name in front of not just the student body, but a grateful student body–and their parents. (Read: Moms who do the shopping.)

If though, people think this is something that never crossed the minds of someone at Pepsi or the team executing Refresh, they must not work in advertising. It’s just too good an opportunity to pass up for the brand and it’s the type of thing I’ve proposed to clients before.

Now, you can nitpick and sat that if schools truly wanted to ban any and all connections with junk food brands, then Pepsi would have had to refuse her entry because of what the money would have been used for, which in turn meant they are *technically* on school property.

No matter what social media initiative you use or metric to measure it by, this is about brands getting their name in front of people or making it part of their lives any way they can. They will take a tenuous connection at best between their product and someone over not being in the picture at all. I’m also not naive to think they’re necessarily in unchartered waters either because Nike and Gatorade have had a presence in schools for a long time.

But they’re murky waters nonetheless because there’s no product, no, *there* there.

I would bet that you will see far more of this kind of *funding* in the future because of the good will it generates for all. Teacher and Pepsi look like heroes. School board saves money. Students get an updated room. Brand gets plaque on school wall.

Can the Taco Bell Center for Historical Studies or the Sears’ Home Economics Center be far behind?

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