Director Of Social Media At Pepsi Responds

August 11, 2010 · By Sloane Davidson, Founder and CEO, Hello Neighbor

Friends - It's been a weary and arduous week for me as I've struggled with my next post to talk about the Pepsi Refresh Project for the Gulf. Especially after all of your comments in regards to the project. I was overwhelmed with the response and how much you care, truly care, about this space and about finding a way to right what I perceive as a wrong.

While the Refresh for the Gulf site launched with flaws that went unanswered for two days, within two hours of my post, Pepsi Refresh For The Gulf Is An Epic Fail, And Here’s Why: I received an email from the Director of Social Media for Pepsi, Bonin Bough. Along with Shiv Singh, Head of Digital for Pepsi, they reached out to me to have a phone call about the campaign, my frustrations, and how best to move forward.

*I offered Bonin and Shiv the opportunity to write a response to my blog post about the campaign to be posted here on The Causemopolitan and it's below.

What I've heard from YOU is that this area of online contests is not quite there yet. It's still missing pieces and elements to have the maximum impact to the nonprofit and activist communities. So here's what I'm going to do. Below is the response from Bonin and Shiv, take a look, leave comments about what you think and then I'll write another post including comments from both posts and we can keep working together, as a community, to help move the needle forward and help tell brands what would make this less icky for us and really help the nonprofits and those with limited time and resources get the maximum impact they need and exposure.

Maybe it's microsites like Refresh Everything. Maybe it's not. We're getting there. I'm glad I wrote that post last week. It reminded me that passion doesn't have to be blindly optimistic. My eyes are open. I'm here to help drive the conversation forward and ignite the problem-solver in all of us. Help me figure out how to do that. In the meantime, the response from Pepsi is below.

Sloane, thanks for giving us the opportunity to post on your blog. Before we address your points, we’d like to share the thinking behind Pepsi Refresh Project’s “Do Good for the Gulf” initiative.

About month-and-a-half ago, as the full extent of the oil spill’s impact in the Gulf of Mexico became more and more apparent, we began to think about how we could help communities in the Gulf states take a step forward with the Pepsi Refresh Project. The members of our core Pepsi Refresh working team were sitting at home following the oil spill coverage on-line and on T.V., like most people in the country, and wondering what we could do to help affected communities quickly. We figured we’d start to see ideas coming into the main Pepsi Refresh program over time but believed we could encourage more ideas to help the Gulf communities (more quickly) if we doubled our commitment for one month and created a Gulf-specific program.

We consulted with our partners, including GOOD, Global Giving and our local bottlers, and determined that we could play a role in helping Americans support the families, schools, businesses and individuals who are working to move forward in the wake of the oil spill. So, on July 1, we launched Pepsi Refresh Project: Do Good for the Gulf, a Gulf-focused program that would mirror our national effort. Since then, we received hundreds of great submissions that are now up for voting through the end of this month – and we’re really happy about that. But we’re not happy that there were some speed bumps with the new Gulf-specific site, as Sloane pointed out in her post last week. We certainly understand the frustration this caused, and we’re sorry for the inconvenience people may have experienced.

Here’s a timeline of what happened:

It’s our sincere hope that these early glitches don’t dissuade anyone from continuing to participate in the program, whether that means campaigning for a grant or choosing where the additional $1.3 million we’ve committed will be allocated.

At the start of the Pepsi Refresh Project, we committed to having an open and ongoing dialogue with people who shared our passion for moving communities forward. And, we understood that there would potentially be errors or missteps, and that we’d learn from these experiences. It’s feedback like Sloane’s that helps us get better, and we see this post as an opportunity to continue to bring transparency and openness to our work. We welcome your thoughts and experiences with the program.

Shiv Singh and Bonin Bough, On behalf of the Pepsi Refresh Project