TheGrill: PepsiCo, Red Bull Execs – We Will Do What Hollywood Can’t (Video)

“There’s a market failure within our broader system, why not fill it ourselves?” says PepsiCo CMO Frank Cooper III during TheWrap’s annual media conference at the Montage

Pepsi and Red Bull have different approaches to quenching thirst, so it makes sense that top executives from each company have different takes on how best to develop its branded content.

Frank Cooper III, CMO in charge of global consumer engagement with PepsiCo, joined TheWrap‘s CEO and editor-in-chief Sharon Waxman for a conversation at TheGrill, TheWrap’s fifth annual Media Leadership Conference at the Montage in Beverly Hills.

See photosThe Scene at TheGrill 2014: TheWrap’s Media Leadership Conference (Photos)

“If you think about Pepsi at its best, what we did is take this brand and connect with culture,” Cooper said. “But technology and entertainment and culture in general are shaping things in ways we couldn’t predict.”

Cooper insisted the traditional 30-second TV spot was just the starting point for branding these days, especially considering Pepsi’s 99.8 percent brand awareness. In his opinion, the world’s sudden reliance on digital delivery devices — like iPads, YouTube, and third-party mobil apps — have made traditionally recognized demographics less vital than than in the past.

“Age, gender, income, location — it’s no longer a great proxy for people. There are delivery systems that allow you to tell the stories in a different way,” he said.

“Mobile is changing everything,” Cooper continued. “With 5.5 million subscribers worldwide interacting with their devices 50 to 150 times a day, that changes everything … if you defined it with traditional demographics, you’d fall short.”

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“Do you think Hollywood is evolving [to meet those demands]?” Waxman asked him.

“It better,” he responded. “Everything else is evolving. Social media, technology, etc. If it doesn’t someone will fill that place telling stories across the delivery systems.

“There’s a market failure within our broader system, why not fill it ourselves?” Cooper continued.

His company has in fact done just that. Pepsi has written checks to filmmakers — like Spike Lee and Diego Luna — plus a variety of popular musicians in order to create content that can be delivered to audiences via YouTube and mobile devices, that Pepsi is backing but doesn’t explicitly promote its products.

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Werner Brell, managing director of Red Bull Media House, has a slightly different approach, having joined Red Bull seven years ago to help spin-off the dedicated media company.

While it too works in content creation and focused distribution efforts across YouTube, mobile platforms, etc., Red Bull seems to be more focused on complete vertical integration.

“We’re the creators, producers, distributors, and publishers [of the content],” Brell said. “We pretty much own the whole value chain. We created new sports, new series.”

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It’s something that helps cut internal costs and also allows them to license content to third parties because they own the rights, and helps them reach a much wider demographic, he continued.

“If you consider the 45-year-old that wants to be 20 and the 14-year-old who wants to be 20, that’s the audience,” Brell explained. “It’s a psycho-graphic, not a pure age demographic.”
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