Pepsi’s SXSW ‘What If? Unconference’ Brainstorms

PepsiCo, in its fourth year as platinum sponsor of South By Southwest (SXSW), is spearheading its festival activation with its ‘What If? Unconference’


Reflecting the creative thinking and cutting edge technology that lie at the heart of SXSW, the idea is create a brand-owned, rich, engaging festival goer thinking experience.


Attendees at the ‘Unconference’ collectively brainstorm ideas about what the future might look like by applying digital solutions to societal challenges in surprising ways.


What If’s daily brainstorms include focusing on the connection between digital and how people make and interact with products, how companies use big data to create consumer benefit, and how talent is moving into the driver’s seat as companies’ no 1 asset.


Specific brainstorm prompts will be teased each day prior to the onsite Unconference on Bloomberg West, as part of an integrated partnership between PepsiCo and the digital-focused national television program.


The What If? Unconference daily brainstorms will take place at PepsiCo Central in the Austin Convention Centre.


The ‘What If’ area aims to provide an innovative visual experience, with wall-to-wall whiteboards and interactive screens, to stimulate the series of structured brainstorms.


This support is further boosted by a set of Pepsi backed digital luminaries and thought-leaders – such as Indexed’s Jessica Hagy and General Assembly’s Matthew Brimer – who run the sessions and co-created the content.


Basically, the brand moderator throws out a theme, a big idea, and invites attendees to collaborative on original thinking around that theme (supporting them through the process).


Daily What If? Unconference insights, photos and videos will be captured at the initiative’s website – www.PepsiCo.com/SXSW.


“SXSW is where culture, specifically digital culture, breaks,” says Pepsi Director Of Digital Media Josh Karpf. “A lot of the digital trends with consumers ultimately have an inflection point at SXSW. For us, it’s seeing where the technologies are going, embracing it here and getting ahead of our consumers and understanding it.”


This central piece of engagement from the umbrella PepsiCo brand sits on top of activation from four of the company’s other mega-brands who are also leveraging their rights at the Austin, Texas-based event. Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Brisk and Doritos are all attempting to shake things up at SXSW through digital and experiential programmes.


Pepsi is also partnering with social DJing platform Turntable.fm to bring a set of influential global DJs to SXSW. Pepsi is curating its own room, “Where There’s Pepsi, There’s Music”, during the platform’s popular “Turntable Tuesdays.”


Elsewhere at the leading 2012 new thought, digital, music and film festival, Mountain Dew highlights its exclusive digital music label Green Label Sound (designed to support emerging musicians by building their fan bases and exposing their music to new audiences) at an official SXSW concert. This show features Green Label artists such as Juicy J, Star Slinger and hip-hop star Mac Miller.


In terms of direct brand leverage, the showcase feature an innovative activation with Instagram that allows attendees to print Instagram ‘pix’ that they tag with #GLSSXSW and to see their Instagram pix featured live on stage throughout the show. Find out more at www.greenlabelsound.com.


Pepsi-owned ice tea brand Brisk is focusing its leverage approach around a series of Star Wars-inspired activities – connected to the brand’s wider 2012 partnership with the rebooted 3-D cinema release of Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace.


This sees The Brisk Bodega at the centre of a programme that sees a 24-hour pop-up experience showcasing authentic art curated by Lucasfilm and urban artists (with live music from Roxy Cottontail and Just Blaze). Fans can also drop by the Brisk mobile unit for a chance to get “Briskified” in photos with a light saber, sample and pick up exclusive Star Wars-themed Brisk cans, and play Brisksaber–the mobile gaming app where your finger becomes a lightsaber–for a chance to win prizes.


Doritos, a Pepsi brand new to SXW in 2012 is marketing around a new kind of music venue ‘The Jacked Stage’ – named after its new Doritos ‘Jacked’ bigger, thicker, punchier tortilla chips launching in late march in the USA.


This stage, featuring musicians and Doritos ‘Jacked’, is in the form of a giant vending machine – standing at nearly six stories tall – which will provide festival goers with a unique pre-launch tasting opportunity.


Attendees earn larger-than-life Doritos-branded ‘quarters’ that can be inserted into the giant Doritos Jacked vending machine to redeem product and special prizes.


Giant quarters are placed throughout the city of Austin and are being earned through engaging via social media channels (such as checking in at The Jacked Stage by Doritos via FourSquare, by tweeting with the #DoritosJACKED hashtag and posting an Instagram photo and/or Doritos JACKED status update on Facebook).


Further information is available at www.twitter.com/DoritosUSA and http://www.facebook.com/DoritosUSA.


In addition to onsite activations, for the first time, PepsiCo is matching its SXSW activities with in-store promotions at more than 150 local retailers around Austin and San Antonio.





If Pepsi is to remain ‘the choice of the new generation’, then it needs to be at the heart of the new generation’s cultural zeitgeist.


Where better to engage with technical innovators and creative thinkers than SXSW?


Indeed, the brand’s increasing commitment to innovative technologies was in further evidence at the festival as PepsiCo also used SXSW 2012 to announce the expansion of its digital incubator program – PepsiCo10.


In 2012, PepsiCo10 extends to India and Brazil (both key growth markets for PepsiCo) in its ongoing ambition to help discover and support emerging technology companies.











Pepsi Head Of Digital Video










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