A Taste of Social Marketing at BevNET Live

According to three social marketing veterans at the BevNET Live conference in New York, beverage marketers promoting their brands in today’s fragmented media environment should focus on integrating their efforts across all channels.

Bonin Bough, Global Director of Social Media for PepsiCo, Darrell Jursa, Vice President of Emerging Media for Dig communications, and Lara Bandler, president of Suite Access said that online promotions offer marketers new opportunities and can enhance a brand’s real-world presence, but can’t replace it.

Bandler said Suite Access is working with Zico Coconut Water on a promotion in which fans can pose to replace model Molly Simms on a Manhattan billboard. Zico will let fans pose for photos at local events, and Bandler said the brand extended the promotion to Facebook.

Jursa called that approach “GO-GO,” short for “get on, get off.” In crafting a marketing campaign for a restaurant chain, he said, he solicited Facebook fans online, referenced the Facebook work at the restaurant, and harvested followers’ email addresses for further contact. Email, he noted, is still the biggest online social network.

Brands can also get a lot of mileage out of already existing resources, he said. Goose Island beer, Jursa said, hosts frequent, well-attended parties at the brewery where consumers get to meet the staff close-up.

“You’d be amazed at how much consumers really dig the crazy minutiae that you’re into every day,” he said.

PepsiCo, Bough said, has approached the online world by focusing on “what has always driven the brand,” but the present environment also presents unique opportunities. With new technologies constantly emerging, brands can invest in potential new trends early. PepsiCo has invested in location-tagging service Foursquare and barcode tagging service Stickybits. The company also unveiled a recent program soliciting technology and media start-ups to apply for support from PepsiCo.

As much as these services allow PepsiCo to push its brands, it also allows the company to listen and react, Bough said. Shortly after Bough started at Pepsi, he responded to some poorly-received, unauthorized, suicide-themed advertisements in Germany by communicating fan rancor up the chain, then informing each Twitter user about PepsiCo’s response. Bough said the company also used online conversations to gauge excitement for the recent roll-out of Gatorade G Series Pro at GNC shops. Based on those conversations, he said, PepsiCo shipped extra product to the stores, leaving them well-prepared for the rush that followed.