Pepsi bulks up on mobile games, video in latest iAd campaign


Pepsi’s new mobile ad

Pepsi continues to gulp up mobile advertisement opportunities skewed towards iPhone and iPad consumers with a new iAd campaign that aims to stand out with several interactive components. 

The soda giant has long been on board with Apples mobile advertising initiatives and ad formats, and the newest campaign packs two games and a video into a mobile ad that promotes its Wild Cherry soda. At the same time that Pepsis initiatives indicate that it may be seeing success with targeting iOS users, the brands ad neglects the growing market of Android users.

Big brands like Pepsi will leverage whatever medium that can reach their target audience and engage consumers around their brand, said Mahi de Silva, CEO ofOpera Mediaworks, San Mateo, CA.

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As a global advertiser, we see Pepsi using lots of different channels and creative, iAd is just one of those channels, he said.

Keep in mind that today a majority of smartphone consumers in the U.S. and even more profoundly around the world use an Android phone. In 2011 and 2012, we used to see brands and agencies focus on iOS devices, but today it’s very rare to see a campaign that’s not on both iOS and Android. Apple still has a substantial lead in the tablet market and we do still see iPad specific campaigns. We recently reported, in our Q1 2014 State of Mobile Advertising report that in the first quarter, Android eclipsed iOS with the most number of ad impressions in the U.S. and across the globe.

Mr. Silva is not affiliated with Pepsi. He commented based on his expertise on the subject.

Pepsi did not respond to press inquiries.

Making mobile ads interactive
Pepsis ad includes a call-to-action prompting consumers to click on the banner ad to play a game.

Users can pick to play either a picture matching or scramble game.

The scramble game prompts consumers to slide tiles across the screen that form an image of cherries. The image match game challenges consumers to match up eight different pairs of branded images.

A screenshot of the iAd

Once consumers correctly solve the puzzle or pair up the images, they are directed back to the ads homepage where they can watch a 30-second commercial that is also posted on Pepsis YouTube page.

Pepsi is one of the exceptions to the exceptions to this lack of creativity though and has relied on Apples advertising options for numerous campaigns.

Earlier this year, Pepsi launched an interactive campaign as part of its Super Bowl XLVIII sponsorship (see story).

Pepsi is also among a handful of marketers involved in Apples iTunes Radio streaming service that launched last year. The soda giant was the only brand to launch a branded station on the service at the time of launch (see story).

The iAd campaign fits into a bigger marketing effort to introduce a line of drinks made with real sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup to make up for a dip in sales the past few years.

The campaign is meant to spark some new sales with consumers who are concerned about the health risks of high fructose corn syrup, which largely phased out sugar as a soda sweetener for food manufacturers in the 1980s due to price.

The decision to leverage mobile to change millennials brand perception makes a lot of sense for Pepsi.

In addition to helping introduce this group of consumers to a product that they may not be familiar with, mobile is also increasingly becoming a go-to platform for marketers to distribute video and interactive bits of content, such as games.

Building up mobile steam
After initially attaching a $1 million price tag to iAd in 2010, Apple has slowly cut back on the costs involved with creating campaigns.

While part of this decline in price is likely due to the growing number of mobile advertising options over the past few years, the price drop-off also signals that the ads are attracting a different crop of marketers than Apple envisioned.

Another screenshot of the ad

The hefty $1 million price tag was initially positioned to lure in marketing dollars from big brands, but instead iAds have grabbed the attention of game developers and makers to drive app downloads.

These game developers cannot shell out big wads of cash that big marketers can and they are also interested in tweaking creative to figure out what is most effective in getting consumers to click through and download their app.

When iAd first launched it was all about big brand campaigns and today we see a good mix of brand and user-acquisition campaigns, Mr. Silva said.

The biggest area of growth we’ve seen is in app-install campaigns, where Apple clearly has a strong visibility into what apps consumers have and where they do in-app purchases, he said.

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