Pepsi Smartly Shifting Ad Dollars Online

As we approach the New Year, we are also approaching an important date in the world of football, Super Bowl XLIV.  Next year’s Super Bowl is just about six weeks away and NFL players are still battling their way to see which 2 teams will make it to Miami on February 7, 2010.  But already advertisers have made their decisions about advertising in the big game.  Last week, Pepsi made the surprising announcement that they will not be running any television commercials during next year’s Super Bowl, ending a 23-year long tradition of Pepsi ads during the big game.  Instead, Pepsi has decided to shift their advertising dollars online.

Pepsi is already a large sponsor of the NFL, having paid millions back in 2002 to replace Coke for the title of the official soft drink of the NFL.  The company also sponsors Rookie of the Week section on NFL.com.  We took a look at how this investment is paying off for Pepsi by measuring consumers exposed to Pepsi ads on NFL.com Rookie of the Week section compared to visitors on NFL.com who do not see these ads.

Pepsi’s brand is clearly plastered all over the Rookie of the Week section (see above).  Nearly 1 in 5 consumers exposed to this co-branded section of NFL.com in November visited one of Pepsi’s many sites including pepsi.com, pepsiusa.com and refresheverything.com  Compared to a viewthrough rate of 0.5% for the control group which is the rest of the visitors on NFL.com who do not see the Pepsi ads, exposed consumers were 36x more likely to visit Pepsi sites!

Even more interesting are the differences in competitive share of visitors to Pepsi and Coke sites between control and exposed consumers.  Among the control group, Pepsi captures only 16% of visitors versus a lion’s share of 84% for Coke.  However, the numbers are completely reversed among the exposed group.

So what can we learning from all this?  Pepsi is making the right move by shifting their ad dollars online where they are clearly making an impact with their media buys by changing consumer behavior in their favor.