Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Pepsi Refresh Project

Are corporations oblgated to give back to society? Are those that choose to give back and profit from a charitable campaign in the wrong?

Instead of spending $20 million for their annual Super Bowl ad campaign, PepsiCo decided to spend funds on a social marketing campaign called the Pepsi Refresh Project. Now, the Pepsi Refresh Project is making headlines around the globe. Pepsi is giving away millions of dollars each month (totaling $20 million at the end of the year) to fund refreshing ideas that change the world. The ideas with the most votes at the end of each month will receive grants ranging from 5k, 25k, 50k and 250k. There are several categories that include: health, arts and culture, food and shelter, the planet, neighborhoods, and education (

Pepsi has received ample amounts of positive press covering their new innovative campaign. Their profits are also on the rise. While this campaign is noteworthy, is it just a marketing ploy to gain profit? Or does Pepsi believe in corporate responsibility and giving back to society?

Selznick discusses responsible leadership. He says the leader and the organization’s values must merge. The main task of a leader is to avoid opportunism and utopianism. The price for opportunism is that you start to trade off your values for the short-term gains. It also starts to define the character of the organization. In Pepsi’s case, I do not think they are trading short-term gains for values. A $20 million dollar campaign is no small mission. I would like to think that Pepsi has outstanding values in their organization. The public certainly thinks so after the Refresh Campaign launched. Do you think Pepsi is opportunistic?

Barnard is another theorist that believes in executive responsibility. He believes in order to get everyone rallied around a certain goal, it requires a moral task and a creative process. Barnard continues by saying there are “moral aspects of cooperation…..cooperation is a creative process carried out by organization as a whole, with leadership as the ‘indispensable fulminator....moral creativeness is the ability to create or provide moral basis for problem solution to others; to generate enthusiasm and conviction, which make cohesiveness and cooperation possible.” I believe Pepsi had creative cooperation when carrying this campaign out. It was ground-breaking. For a social media campaign to be this successful, an organization has to rally.

Goodpaster also has similar beliefs as Barnard and Selznick.

Friedman has opposing views to Barnard, Selznick and Goodpaster. He says that companies should not be involved with social issues, and if an organization does want to be involved in “corporate responsibility” the only exception is profit. One must have a split between their company and values.

In an article written by Scott Moir, Moir states, “As long as a corporation is trying to make the world a better place one area code at a time, I think that's a pretty good start!” Moir goes on to name four benefits of corporate social responsibility from an Internet public relations and marketing perspective.

In my opinion, I think Pespi is doing a wonderful thing. Not only are they helping hundreds of organizations and people, they are giving individuals a voice and a platform. Pepsi is granting $20 million dollars over the next year. I think they deserve all the free publicity and positive moral they can get. There is no way of knowing Pepsi’s motives behind the campaign – profit or giving back. But giving this much -- does is even matter? What do you think?

Additional Sources:


2. Moir, Scott. 19 Feb 2010.“Pepsi Refresh Project- Corporate Social Responsibility a Priority in 2010?”

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