Big-brand companies in saturated markets like soft drinks compete on every conceivable battlefield -- every niche audience or brand equity-building opportunity is just another scrum in the same zero sum game.
With the release of two suspiciously similar corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs at Coke and Pepsi, HuffPost reporter Claire Grinton takes a hard look at these "conscious capitalism" programs and what the intentions behind them might be. For example, a study of the buying preferences of the millenial generation found that 69% consider a company's CSR commitment when deciding where and what to buy. And with soft drinks getting rapped in the public square for, among other things, being linked to obesity and diabetes, perhaps the two most recognizable brands in the space felt the need to generate some positive news.
Here are the links:
Pepsi's Refresh Everything project
Coca-Cola's "Live Positively" Campaign
Pepsi's effort leverages a program of "crowdsourcing" or "social innovation" where potential grant recipients contact the company through the site to pitch projects that affect different areas of CSR (such as health, arts, nutrition, the environment, community and education). This reminds me of Google's 10`00 project, which generated 150,000 ideas -- finalists included enhancing science and engineering education, promoting health monitoring and data analysis, and driving innovation in public transport (full list here).
Whatever the outcome of these new initiatives might be, the money involved says something about organizational commitment -- for example, the Pepsi program is scheduled to disburse as much as $1.3M/month, or as Grinton writes, "...the sheer scale of these soda company campaigns mark a shift in corporate expectations, and it is fair to say that the bar has been raised."