Q&A with Pepsico’s Chief Consumer Engagement Officer, Frank Cooper
Social Media Week is a leading news platform and worldwide conference that curates and shares the best ideas and insights into social media and technology's impact on business, society, and culture.
As Senior Vice President, Chief Consumer Engagement Officer of PepsiCo Americas Beverages, Frank Cooper III is charged with leading the development of a new consumer engagement model for PAB and creating breakthrough marketing programs across the PAB portfolio. In addition, he has direct oversight of key operational areas across PAB that determine consumer engagement, including Digital, Media, Sports, Multicultural and Entertainment.
[Social Media Week]: What was your motivation for supporting Social Media Week?
[Frank Cooper]: Pepsi has a strong heritage in the digital world — our Web site launched almost 17 years ago. Since then, we have been investing in emerging technologies to grow together as we continue building our digital presence. Our long-standing belief in the power of people and their ideas to make positive change aligns with our constant digital growth, because social media platforms enable us to have ongoing conversations with our customers – and to explore new ways of driving social engagement.
We’re especially excited to be a part of Social Media Week because we recently launched the Pepsi Refresh Project – an effort that features a strong focus on social media. We’re inviting people to tell us their ideas about how they can refresh the world at RefreshEverything.com. Anyone is welcome to submit an idea, we’ll take up to 1,000 per month. And the public decides who wins. We’re giving up to $1.3 million per month to fund the winning ideas, more than $20 million in 2010. We’re using social media platforms to inspire ideas and encourage individuals to participate. In turn, individuals will be using social media platforms to drive votes for their ideas. Social media is our primary vehicle to getting the message out and driving social engagement.
Tell us a little about some of the Social Media Week events in which Pepsico and Pepsi Refresh will participate?
[Frank Cooper]: I’ll be speaking at the official press conference on Monday morning. Following the press conference, we’re hosting the opening session on the power of social engagement and the potential impact of the Pepsi Refresh Project. Lauren Hobart, CMO for Sparkling Brands at Pepsi, will be there to discuss the increasing importance in utilizing social media to develop corporate brands. Our partners from GOOD and Facebook will be a part of the conversation as well.
You’ll find Pepsi representatives at many other events throughout the week, including “Reinvention from the Ground Up,” “Mashable’s NextUp NYC,” and “What is Your Social Music Currency” on Wednesday. Thursday, you’ll find us at “Putting the Social in CSR.” At all of these events, you’ll hear from Pepsi representatives across all levels who believe in the power of social media.
[Social Media Week]: How is the social Web changing the way brands interact with their consumers? Why is this important?
[Frank Cooper]: Thanks to the tools of the social Web, the interaction between brands and their consumers is now a two-way street. And, this engagement leads to a meaningful dialogue – and in the instance of the Pepsi Refresh Project, we hope it leads to meaningful changes in communities across the U.S.
[Social Media Week]: In your opinion, what is the biggest misconception about social media?
[Frank Cooper]: Some people stay away from social media because they say they are worried about controlling the conversation. I believe this to be a misconception. Staying away from the conversation is not the same as controlling the message. People are going to talk — the choice is whether to be a part of the conversation or not.
[Social Media Week]: What is one of your predictions for social media in 2010? How do you see this influencing your brand?
[Frank Cooper]: As smart phones continue to become more mainstream, I think we’ll see tools such as location awareness really take off. The challenge for all of us is finding ways to stay engaged with our customers in a crowded marketplace.
Social media already strongly influences our brand. It enables our customers to become a part of our decisions. A clear example of this is our Dewmocracy program, which invited customers to create and package a product.
[Social Media Week]: What’s the biggest challenge presented by social media/ What are some ways this can be overcome?
[Frank Cooper: For these communication channels to be valuable, you have to put in the time. Cultivating online relationships, much like offline relationships, takes hard work. Pepsi is committed to engaging our customers and that’s why we’re investing in social media.
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