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Pepsi courts youth demographic with 2D bar codes

PepsiCo Inc. is using mobile advertising and content distributed via 2D bar codes to engage with its target audience of 18-24-year-olds and promote its Pepsi Max brand.

To spread the "Pepsi Max Kicks" campaign virally, Pepsi offered consumers mobile content that they can share with their friends, including a picture of British television personality and model Kelly Brook delivered to their mobile phones via quick-response 2D bar codes, or QR codes. The QR codes appeared on 400 million cans and bottles of Pepsi across Britain, and the media campaign also integrated mobile and Web advertising.

"The point of the Pepsi campaign was primarily to increase interactivity with consumers," said Mendy Mendelsohn, cofounder/CEO of 3GVision, Yehuda, Israel. "The strategy was based on the assumption that mobile is part of customer's lives.

"The Pepsi Kicks campaign aimed to communicate that Pepsi is an innovative company at the forefront of consumer trends, providing relevant and interesting content and entertainment when and where customers want it through their mobile phones," he said.

"QR codes were used as an eye-catching and innovative way to fast-track consumers to mobile content and as a cost-effective method of encouraging interaction with Pepsi's target age group, young adults 18"24."

Pepsi's global mobile strategy was developed by GraphicoDMG, which is Pepsi's global mobile agency.

The Pepsi Max Kicks campaign, designed to extend the Pepsi brand name via mobile using QR codes linked to free music and video content, was powered by i-nigma, 3GVision's flagship product.

Pepsi wanted to leverage its relationship with Kelly Brook, who is a reality TV personality and a fixture in the British tabloids.

Graphico filmed a video with Ms. Brook, which was featured on Pepsi's Web sites and ads.

In addition, the campaign featured Kelly Brook "behind-the-scenes" content, including images, interviews, free mobile games such as Project Gotham Racing and other downloads.

Consumers can share and forward the content via social networking sites.

The ad campaign ran across Sky Sports, The Sun, MSN, Vodafone Live and other media sites and featured a mid-page unit (MPU) ad format featuring Ms. Brook.

The Pepsi QR code took consumers to the mobile version of the Pepsi Web site. Pepsi constantly updated the content to encourage consumers to buy Pepsi products.

QR codes were used since they are a great way to drive consumers to mobile content, according to 3GVision. The company touts them as a cost-effective method of encouraging interaction with the target age group.

The campaign also included a daily raffle sweepstakes giving consumers the chance to win tickets to concerts from music groups such as Maximo Park, Counting Crows, the Hold Steady, Basement Jaxx, The Prodigy, Dizzee Rascal, Lily Allen, Kaiser Chiefs, Snow Patrol, the Kooks and Avril Lavigne.

Pepsi is also offering tickets to the techno, house, dance and electronica festival Global Gathering.

Some obstacles remain for widespread consumer adoption of 2D bar codes, including the installation of readers at the point of sale.

While a growing number of mobile phones sold in the U.S. and Britain are fitted with cameras, consumers have to download the i-nigma software, which enables them to connect in an instant to a link with mobile information.

In addition, there is still a lot of education to be done, since not everyone knows how to use QR codes.

"To encourage consumers to use the codes, Pepsi offered customers interesting mobile content featuring Kelly Brook -- a tabloid magazine favorite -- and engaged in PR and advertising," Mr. Mendelsohn said. "Graphico wrote and filmed a funny video with Kelly, which quickly went viral and received a high level of publicity.

"Pepsi's PR company gained exposure in leading British newspapers like The Sun and The Daily Mail, where QR codes were explained," he said. "This was supported by an advertising campaign in key media.

"Content for sharing was encouraged enabling consumers to spread the word, forward interesting content with their friends and add it to their social networking profiles."