PepsiCo went on a heavier CSR push this year compared with last year when it sought to remind young people of the importance of family bonds. On the same theme of 'Bring happiness home', the previous campaign included a 32-minute film, music videos, outdoor ads, bus wraps, social media, QR codes on packaging, and more.
This year, leveraging the Chinese New Year season that begins 31 January, PepsiCo collaborated with China Women’s Development Foundation (CWDF) to drive a 'Parcels for mothers' initiative.
Commissioning Tmall to create a special microsite, it called on all walks of life to donate RMB 2 for a parcel delivered to underprivileged mothers in remote areas. After 25 million unique views per day, more than 62,000 people have donated online, generating RMB 2.2 million (approximately US$370,000) and 11,026 parcels to 11 provinces (as of 20 January).
Richard Lee, CMO of PepsiCo Greater China, told Campaign Asia-Pacific that "some of these rural mothers live very bleak lives, so we bring not only daily necessities to them but also hope for them to live on.” This activation idea is tied to local insights, he added. A startling 70 per cent of Chinese report feeling unhappy due to social injustice, wealth inequality in a material-driven society, broken human relationships and a lack of a sense of security, according to a 2012 government whitepaper on China's urban health. "Everyone deserves a happy CNY," Lee said. "So let's turn a nation of buying into a nation of giving."
When asked about what Campaign Asia-Pacific posited as the ROH (return on happiness) of the campaign, Lee insisted it is very difficult to measure the intangible value of happiness, because this is a multi-year strategy. "I truly believe that all brands should have CSR not as a separate project by the corporate-affairs department but to combine it with commercial means," he said. Lee does not want to focus on hardcore metrics like sales projections, saying it is not enough to look at creative effectiveness nowadays, but what he coins the "humanity metric".
Earned-media returns are somewhat impressive, though. The CCTV-1 news channel reported on the 'Parcels for mothers' initiative on 7 January—reportedly the first time the powerful broadcaster has covered a brand-led initiative (see video below).
The campaign's main theme song (see music video at the top) echoes the effect of giving happiness via monetary means. Called ‘Happiness Giving’, it features local music talent-show stars like Momo Wu (from China Voice) and Ai Fei (from Chinese Idol). Viewership numbers have reached 625 million, with mobile engagement via WeChat also attracting 190,644 followers, who can send customised new-year greetings remixed with the theme song, as well as 'celebrity stickers', to their family members and friends.
While arch rival Coca-Cola's uses its 'Open happiness' theme year-round in various campaigns, PepsiCo prefers to attempt to make a big annual festive-season blast. Total media spend is estimated at US$11 million across a gamut of advertising, digital, marketing, and PR efforts. While the cheery approach may not seem like a big deal in developed markets, where things have moved on to expanding product lineups, it is in China and other developing countries where marketing is still largely about establishing brand equity and changing lifestyles.
Lee pointed out that China’s rapid development has come at a cost: the loss of societal values. The brand produced four mini-movies, each emphasising a different sub-brand to take advantage of social sharing. The themes: community (Pepsi core brand), family (Lay's), friendship (Miranda) and romance (Tropicana).
PepsiCo also negotiated unique collaborative deals with Baidu and Youku-Tudou this year. "They are innovative because firstly, all four films and the theme song are pushed simultaneously," Lee said. "Secondly, this is the third time the powerful media platforms have opened up precious resources to allow rare home-page domination (like Baidu on 16 January)." The other two occasions were event-related promotions for the Olympics and China Football League.
With the warm-up period kicking off from 25 November, the company sparked talking points on social media around the question of 'Are you happy?' Lee only revealed that the campaign is "well on track" versus plans. Throughout the ongoing nine-week blast, the brand carried out below-the-line activation through onground promotions, point-of-sale displays and high-impact outdoor executions like a giant Pepsi LED ball in Shanghai.