Coke vs. Pepsi: Branded Acts of Kindness

by Stan Phelps

in Gift Economy,purple goldfish project

The Battle of the Vending Machines

Coke and Pepsi have both released videos in the last week utilizing vending machines.  This follows Coke’s release of the ‘Happiness Machine’ last year.

Here are all three for your viewing pleasure:

Round 1 – Coke’s entree which landed in the Purple Goldfish Project at #186

Round 2 – Pepsi chimes in and goes ‘social’

Round 3 – Coke responds by going ‘supersize’

Both are creating brand experiences through a concept I call ‘Acts of Kindness’.  There are three types:

Random Act of Kindness- we’ve all seen this before.  Good deeds / unexpected acts such as paying tolls, filling parking meters or buying gas for consumers. Usually a one off feel good PR activation.  This draws upon gift economy priniciples.  Giving with no expectation of immediate return, except maybe for potential PR value.

wwhsn?Branded Act of Kindness – next level 2.0.  Here the item given is usually tied closely with the brand and its positioning.  It’s less random, more planned and potentially a series of activations.  This is where Coke is currently playing.  The brand is making a conscious effort to create acts of ‘Happiness’.  The collection of acts can be found on Facebook at WWHSN, an acronym for ‘Where Will Happiness Strike Next’.  This has the feel of a traditional marketing campaign.  But according to EVP / CMO Joe Tripodi, Coke is leaning more towards ‘expressions’ than traditional ‘impressions’.  Less eyeballs and more emphasis on touches.  What is an expression or a touch?  It’s a ‘like’ on Facebook, a video on YouTube, sharing a photo, a tweet on Twitter etc.

Pepsi-Social-Vending-Machine-1Lagniappe Act of Kindness – 3.0 stuff.  Kindness imbedded into your brand. Giving little unexpected extras (g.l.u.e) as part of your product or service.  This is rooted in the idea of ‘added value’ to the transaction.  Not a one off or a campaign, but an everyday practice that’s focused on customers of your brand.  This is where Pepsi is playing with their ‘Be Social’ vending machines (#796 in the Purple Goldfish Project).  Everyone who purchases a soda from these machines has an opportunity to gift a soda.  Although the gift isn’t free, the ability to craft a video message and send a ‘branded act of kindness’ is a nice little unexpected extra.

Here is an infographic that shows all 3:

branded acts of kindness

What are your thoughts?  Is there a winner here?  Do these types of marketing activities make sense?

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra for good measure) – How about a vending machine on wheels?

Bonus Video – Here is neat ice cream vending machine that will not only make you smile, but reward you for doing so.  I witnessed ‘Share Happy’ first hand last year at Cannes.  Very cool job by Unilever (pun intended):

Lagniappe defined: A marketing lagniappe, i.e. purple goldfish,  is any time a business goes above and beyond to provide a ‘little something extra’. It’s that unexpected surprise that’s thrown in for good measure.

How do you stand out in the sea of sameness? How do you win repeat customers and influence word of mouth? Are you Giving Little Unexpected Extras?

What’s Your GLUE?

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{ 3 trackbacks }

My soup
May 2, 2011 at 6:34 am
Social Vending from Pepsi « Be Remarkable!
May 3, 2011 at 8:02 am
Social Vending from Pepsi | pepsi
May 3, 2011 at 12:22 pm

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Dave Marcelo May 1, 2011 at 9:58 am

I’ve had a love affair with random acts of kindness for a while now (I’ve blogged about the approach recently: In short, both examples here are winners. The important takeaways here: 1) both brands have continually evolved the random acts of kindness approach and added layers /enhancements where appropriate and 2) social sharing and true experiential elements have been integrated so that the programs are immersive and fun.

2 Stan Phelps May 1, 2011 at 11:51 am

Good points Dave. No true outright winner here, maybe ultimately its just the consumer that benefits by the little unexpected extras.
Coke showcases interactions with consumers and makes them part of the story in a fun way. Pepsi allows for consumers to be immersed in the experience to create their own story.

3 Lisa Thorell May 1, 2011 at 3:09 pm

Totally sweet (carbonated) post, Stan! ;-) I like your distinction between Branded Acts of Kindness vs. Random Acts of Kindness. I have been the recipient of one of Chipotle’s RAOK lunch burritos – and it truly surprised me and forever imprinted their brand on my brain. I notice that Chipotle [CMG] does not make a big deal of this (little PR outreach on it). At least for me, that makes me respect them even more than Coke or Pepsi. When the Brand RAOK = Pure RAOK I get suspicious. And I like the distinction of Lagniappe RAOK too — when an RAOK is not episodic or part of a one-off campaign, but embedded as a regularly occurring activitiy in a company culture. I know CMG does that. Not so sure with PEPSI/Coke here — is this all temporary for Brand RAOK—will it all go away soon…so we don’t associate these RAOKs with them? Hmmmm…

4 Stan Phelps May 1, 2011 at 3:18 pm

Thanks Lisa. I just put Chipotle into the Project at #799. You are officially a contributor to the Purple Goldfish Project. Wasn’t aware of the RAOK lunch burritos at CMG. Good stuff literally and figuratively.
Like your take on the ‘purity’ angle of RAOK and ‘temporary’ nature of BAOK. I think the embedded LAOK approach leverages the positives of both.

5 Denise May 2, 2011 at 8:16 pm

Coke has codes in the top of the bottle tops. These cdes are entered in at there site. Can be used to buy products or better yet can be used to donate $$$s to schools or charities. Let’s their consumers choose! Haven’t seen or heard about that with Pepsi.

6 Stan Phelps May 3, 2011 at 6:30 am

Thanks Denise. Good point on the Coke Rewards program and providing choices.

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