October 11, 2009

Pepsi Natural is Going "Bye-Bye" and Other Marketing Stuff (A JTG Rant)

I was at Target this week and a PepsiCo employee was there checking stock and shelf placement, and whatever they do to not help them sell soda better. Being the nerd that I am, I struck up a conversation with him about my love for Pepsi's products and my desire to work for PepsiCo. He said to me, "no you don't." What? I guess he is a commission based employee, which I would never want to be because goals are usually set at a point where reaching them is just shy of what is possible to reach for bonuses, and therefore, no money is made. This seemed to be his complaint. I did notice too many different sizes of cans and bottles, no Pepsi Natural, and just all around bad placement of the beverages. He also mentioned something about the Coca-Cola guy who also entered the isle. I quickly mentioned I hated Coke and he almost came to the rescue of the Coca-Cola guy. I felt like punching both of them after that. I asked him a few different questions about Pepsi and other flavors, but then I turned my focus to the fact that NO Pepsi Natural was on the shelves. He told me, it is done. Pepsi is not going to be selling it anymore. "What? That was a short run. And Pepsi did NO advertising anywhere for it," I told him. "Even Pepsi's own website doesn't mention Pepsi Natural." He told me they just try things and they are hit or miss. If it doesn't sell well right away, they pull it. It didn't seem right to me. I'm a huge Pepsi Natural fan. I mean, this is my favorite drink. I actually spend the extra money they charge for the glass bottled 4 packs of the stuff. And then I started thinking about how marketing people think they know sooo much about how to market products, companies, etc. For example, I had a great idea for my own employer. I believe they should use social networking sites, like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, to spread the word, for virtually free, to the world. Sure they would have to pay me a small salary to maintain the sites with current and relevant information about the company, ad campaigns, promotions, giveaways, etc., but I could do in for cheap. I wouldn't need an office. I wouldn't even need a computer really. I can practically do most of the required work from my phone (okay that might be pushing it a little, but don't pay some "marketing expert" moron 100K. Pay me 50K). This would be a great way to spread the word about the company, while at the same time, offering up solutions to problems, customer service help, and a way to control information about the company on the Internet. While on leave for a few weeks with a new baby, I set a meeting with the marketing people. These marketing geniuses basically didn't even let me explain my ideas. Instead, the president of marketing talked over me about how they were "already looking into this avenue of marketing" and "they were looking to hire someone who had experience in setting up this kind of site for a large company." So, in other words, my creative ideas after 9 plus years of experience with this company, would not be needed because some outside yahoo would be able to do it better; him with his marketing degree and all. I think what I'm getting at is: too often people go to school, are taught how to do things the teacher's way or the industries' standard way, given a degree that says, "you know marketing", and all the creative ideas of others are looked down upon or considered sub-par. My ideas come from experience, participation, and the observation of success in using these mediums. I look at what other LARGE companies are doing and how they make their followers, friends, and fans feel as though they are part of the company. I see that potential being wasted by the "marketing experts" of my company. The Mountain Dew Labs thing, for example; I'm not totally convinced I've had any impact on the design, look, name, or anything associated with flavor #231, but Mountain Dew made me feel like I did. They made me feel like I am part of their design team. I feel like I am part of the family. And that's what I see being the missed opportunity here. I spoke to two different customers this week about similar topics. One customer is a website designer. He told me he usually doesn't hire the college graduates who apply to his company because they design just like they were taught. There is no creativity in their designs, and they are often boring. The other customer was a retired marketing expert. He told me how the big corporate marketing jerks take the creativity of the little people and smash it to create the cookie cutter look that everyone else has. He talked about how the company he worked for was owned by a larger national company. When the larger parent company came in to "implement" the company's national message, they lost customers, jobs, and ultimately the whole smaller division, due to the lack of understanding their customers. Someone needs to take the little guy's ideas and let them run free. I think if my employer hired me to implement my social networking strategy, we would see almost instant gains in sales, recognition, and a nationwide acknowledgment of what the company is doing. We would be able to share our goals, products, position in the current market, and all the other strengths that make us one of the best in our industry. We would be able to show that we are the leading company in the nation, still doing business the same today as we did 5 years ago, before the current economic crisis. We are strong, secure, respected, and well funded to maintain a high level of quality service and products for our customers. These free marketing mediums would allow us to express our redefined focus on customer service and all the great products we offer both businesses and individuals. We could incorporate our national marketing campaigns with local focuses and successes throughout all our markets, products, and services. But back to my Pepsi Natural. Pepsi never even addressed that they made this stuff. It's no where to be found in any of their marketing. And it's sad because it is soooo good. Sure, they can't really talk about the fact that it's made with real cane sugar, making it easier for their consumers' bodies' to digest. They don't want to harm the sales of there biggest two beverage, Pepsi and Mountain Dew. But, why not talk about the "all natural ingredients" or the "original cola style taste" or the fact that it's stinking amazing, in a glass bottle, and a sophisticated grown-up soda? I'm so sad about Pepsi Natural. It really is good. People were not given a chance to try it. Maybe the marketing as natural threw off the masses. Instead, you marketing geniuses, try the "original cola styling" approach. That might get some more fans of old school stuff to try it. Look at the marketing success of the VW Beetle when it came back out. It's been awhile since I had a good rant, so here's one about marketing, Pepsi Natural, and college educated people sucking. HAHA. Maybe that's a little harsh. Sorry to those of you who went to college and think you are somehow smarter, or you who think the word "sucking" is as bad as any cuss word. I'm actually sad about my misfortune with the marketing people at my company. I know I would be good at it. I'm still passionate about it, and that means I care enough about it that I'd do really well at it. I'd enjoy my job too. But for now, I'll still work hard where I am.