Miller, Pepsi, Coke: big brands go with social justice

February 7, 2010 — Leave a comment

Okay, “social justice” may be a bit of a reach. But Miller, Pepsi and Coke are among brands who are using the big stage to relate to the millions of Americans (and earthlings, what with the Super Bowl’s worldwide reach) who truly need a hand during these cruddy economic times.

Here’s Miller High Life’s campaign idea. Here’s their ad on Facebook. (Hat tip to Robin Marohn.) It’s a great idea that salutes four small American businesses. Not your typical Super Bowl ad, but that may help Miller stand out, especially when Anheuser-Busch will most likely stick with the tried and true slapstick-n-Clydesdales approach. It’s a perfect fit for Miller High Life’s everyman brand persona. And hell, I bet the four businesses will have a much better 2010 than 2009. Way to go Miller.

Pepsi’s Refresh Everything effort is going to give millions in grants to fund helpful projects. Pepsi’s tactic of not running any ads during the game puts it into first place for pre-game brand awareness between these cola war rivals. Nielsen says Pepsi got 21.6 percent of the total online buzz among all Super Bowl advertisers (which is really, really huge), about 10 times more than Coca-Cola. But with Coca-Cola’s historical international sales lead, and Coke having about 14 times more Facebook fans, Pepsi still has a long climb to gain market share and fans.

Coke is donating $1 for each “bottle of Coke” that is “virtually gifted” on Facebook. Check it out here. Um. That’s a cool idea, but why even bother with the virtual give of a virtual beverage language? Just say “here’s a buck for a good cause.” Here’s AdAge’s story on the rivalry.

What’s a better approach? I like Miller’s. Sure Pepsi and Coke are doing good things. And they’re putting money on the ground, into the hands of folks who need it, which is really great. But I suspect that these campaigns are simply shifting corporate charitable giving and marketing budgets around. And ultimately, they’re doing the exact same thing, except Pepsi is saving a few million by not running ads. This lack of differentiation could wind up giving neither one a big win today.

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