Pepsi Cheer – Social Media Done Wrong

The Pepsi Cheer?
The Pepsi Cheer?

Update April 21, 2010: Looks like I was quoted over at in Five things you need to know about: Social media and brands by Andrew Knott. Nice to be referenced however briefly.

You’re probably doing Social Media in your Internet Marketing mix, most companies and marketers have jumped on that bandwagon faster than people become Dallas Cowboys fans when they go on a winning streak.

To be honest, chances are if you’re doing Social Media you are most likely completely wasting your time and resources because you’re doing social media badly.

No offense. But the large majority of marketers simple do not use Social Media the same way they might use other forms of media and advertising.

No ROI (Return On Investment). This can also be measured in Brand terms rather than dollar amounts.
No clear and definitive goals.
No strategy.

If you took a few hours, set up a Facebook group, Facebook fan page and Twitter feed then simply post to those profiles then you’re completely wasting your time.

Stop Now.

Doing Social Media badly is much worse than not doing Social Media at all.

As with everything in Marketing you need to attach a value, strategy and execution plan to each and every program you put in place. If you don’t then frankly you’re Marketing badly.

Case in point.

Let's pretend this didn't happen, OK?
Let's pretend this didn't happen, OK?

The Pepsi Cheer was an abysmal failure from a Social Media standpoint and from a Marketing standpoint. Here is a good overview from Marketing Mag:

Pepsi Seeking One Million Members for Pepsi Cheer

This campaign was the brain child of the Toronto Agency Capital C (Yeah that’s right their corporate website is hosted on Typepad – very edgy).

Before we look at Pepsi’s Social Media Strategy results, let’s have a quick look at what they implemented:

On Facebook



Here’s what Pepsi wanted to do:

  1. Create a contest to create a Cheer for Hockey Canada and the 2010 IIHF Mens’s Hockey Championship in Germany.
  2. Have the winning cheer promoted via Social Media, on television and radio.
  3. Have fans at the events use the cheer during the games to be started by Pepsi employees in the crowd (really bad idea).

The winning cheer was an annoying (in my opinion) “Eh! Oh-Canada! Go!” which was a customer submitted cheer and was then heavily promoted through advertising mediums (all listed above).

Now on a fundamental level this idea should have died in a brainstorming session. You never ever mess with the patriotism of Canadian Hockey fans. Here in Canada, Hockey is a big part of people’s sports watching mix and particularly since Canada dominates International Hockey (even though we lost in the finals to the US this past year).

The cheers Canadians have been using for years are pretty popular and there was never a need to add a new one to the mix when it was clearly a very shallow corporate marketing initiative.

Their brutal social media implementation also caused them more brand damage than had they done absolutely nothing. Pepsi and their agency failed to remember one key component of Social Media.

It’s a conversation with people. People can (and should talk back).

The Pepsi Cheer Gone Wrong
The Pepsi Cheer Gone Wrong

This is exactly what people did and it wasn’t pretty.

Let’s look at some very basic stats:

Pepsi’s Facebook Fan Page: 134,926 Fans
Pepsi Canada’s Twitter Profile: 1034 Followers

Basic Negative Results

Pepsi – I Don’t need yer damn cheer
231 members

The” Eh! Oh! Canada Go!” chant is a national embarrassment
64,762 Members

Twitter Search for Pepsi Cheer

I’ll actually run a reputation report for this later in the week and add this to an overall case study, since this is such a blatantly bad idea.

Let’s have a quick look at why I’m saying this was not only a bad Marketing idea but it was a failure from a Social media perspective:

  1. Pepsi struck a chord with a national sport and national pride. Basically saying “You’re doing it wrong Canada”. Bad idea.
  2. Pepsi blatantly promoted themselves over simply promoting cheering for the team.
  3. Replacing the cheer was unnecessary. There are a number of cheer Pepsi could have latched onto and promoted. This likely would have gone over well.
  4. Their social media profiles simply ignored any backlash except for a few references to cheering “any cheer you want”. Too little too late.
  5. The Pepsi Canada Twitter stream did little to engage anyone talking on Twitter except for positive feedback and inane Re-Tweets about their promotion.
  6. The Pepsi Canada Twitter stream was hardly used but it was still there. Hey Pepsi Marketing Team – here’s a tip. Don’t use it if you’re going to use it badly.
  7. has far more negative sentiments than neutral or positive ones. Clearly Pepsi made a mistake here since they’re ignoring the fans they tried to approach. Oops that only serves to piss people off.
  8. The negative groups on Facebook almost outnumber the Fans of the Pepsi Cheer Fan Page. As a side note there is a decent set of sign up forms and calls to action on internal tabs of the fan page but there appears to be little focus to the fan page. They would have been better off to have participated in other Fan Pages (example: Hockey Canada) than to try to become the hub of Hockey Fans.
The Pepsi Cheer clearly annoying.
The Pepsi Cheer clearly annoying.

This is just the beginning of this fiasco for Pepsi in my humble opinion. They’ll be dealing with the backlash for quite sometime. Particularly since they appear to be staying the course on the same bad Social Media Strategy.

Another dumb move.

The key take aways here:

If you are going to do Social Media properly then do it properly and think about what you are doing, devote resources, a strategy and team to it.

If you think you need to have a presence on Social Networks just for the sake of being there, then you’re dead wrong.

If you are going to do a half assed job of Social Media Marketing then do yourself a favour and don’t do it at all.

Additional References

Junior Hockey Chant Falls Flat – Vancouver Sun

Traditional Cheers Given Vocal Support – Star Phoenix

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