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Brandon Mendelson

What can I say? It sounds good, and Pepsi seems to be listening to the feedback it's receiving. There are no guarantees, in anything like this, that all will go well. But. I'm willing to give Pepsi the benefit of the doubt as this project moves forward.

Awareness Home Funding

We're excited to see how Pepsi does with this effort. As with anything it could crash and burn if poeple don't grab on. I'd hope that it doesn't take a million dollar offer to get your idea to take off . . . at least we hope not. Good Luck Pepsi we're drinkin' Pepsi one bottle at a time to help.

Charles Tsai

"Our theory of social change is that new ideas are born from optimism, a curious mind and a creative spirit."

If this is the case, why devalue the importance of ideas by favoring those with large social networks (big established organizations)?

We all know by now people vote in these contests out of obligation to their social ties not because they believe in one idea over others.

Sam Davidson

I go back and forth on contests like this. On one hand, I like the innovation and crowd-sourcing that doesn't happen so much in traditional grant applications. But, like some commenters have said, also don't like that typically those with larger social networks "win." I'd love to see a better, happier medium that combines the two or bridges the gap. Not sure what it would look like, though.

Betsey Russell


While I applaud the fact that Pepsi is entering these waters a little more cautiously and transparently than Chase, I have to ask: What's really different besides the fact that you're giving away a huge sum and are doing a cursory vetting of applicants? And more importantly, how on earth do you plan to evaluate the effectiveness of this approach, especially considering that those organizations funded may not necessarily be the best at what they do?



I believe deeply in what Pepsi is doing to build a social purpose business paradigm. From the partners that you have selected to vet proposals to Pepsi's commitment to transparency in executing the program... your work comes across sound and authentic.

As Beth and readers of this blog know all too well, projects of this nature are risky and can be derailed in an instant. While Chase Community Giving is the most recent memory of good intentions gone south, American Express Member's Project had its fair share of challenges as have others. In short, I admire the steps Pepsi is taking and wish you guys the best of luck!

My question is this:

Increasingly, the stories of Pepsi Refresh winners will be unfolding in interesting locations and unique circumstances in communities across America. Is Pepsi considering ways to help these individuals tell and propagate their ongoing stories from the 'front lines of change' across the Internet and advance their initiatives beyond the initial Pepsi grant.

Executing the right digital story-telling strategy could be a powerful way to amass real scale beyond the initial cash grant by mobilizing skills and resources of the general public to get behind the winners, thereby taking their projects to the next level.

American Express really missed this opportunity. What about Pepsi?

Deron Triff

Chad Latz

Thanks for the post and the insights of the commenters. I have to applaud the Pepsi Refresh Project. Corporate Philanthropy in so many organizations is absent any true strategic focus ($5M to the CEOs alma mater, etc.) Giving is indiscriminate and is an under-leveraged resource for brands. Projects such as this acknowledge a couple of critical facts 1) making differences in communities require the input of communities (social or otherwise) and 2) the paradigm for long-term and sustained brand engagement is not driven by massive spend on a 30 second ad spot. Brand equity and engagement is built through offering social currency. In the case of Project Refresh, that has come from asking consumers and organizations focused on social change to co-create new possibilities for making a difference in communities.

As crowdsourcing continues to grow in popularity as a method to garner greater consumer engagement online, those of us in the marketing and communications space will be responsible for guiding brands to the best methods and guidelines aimed at offering the greatest value to consumers and communities in a way that helps protect the reputation of their brands.



I appreciate you sharing your thoughts. I do have to say that I am more than a little disappointed in the fact that another multi-national company is limiting their initiative to the USA. Your title says "Global" but organizations outside the USA aren't allowed to apply to become a beneficiary.

I'd also like to add that I think these competitions ignore what is potentially the biggest value a large corporation can bring to the nonprofit world... recognition. By asking people to vote, you're leveraging the popularity of a project. There are many causes and "projects" that will not be popular, but that a large company could help to make popular.

Major corporations like Pepsi have enormous power to change the world through their philanthropic and social media efforts. However, jumping on popular bandwagon's isn't necessarily the best way to have real impact on important issues. In many cases, a large company like yours can create change, bring awareness and potentially find a cure, solve a problem, stop a problem from existing - through its efforts. I see that as far more leadership oriented than these types voting contests. I wish we'd all challenge major corporations to become change leaders - instead of bandwagon jumpers.

Kris McRea

Bonin -
Thanks so much for your behind the scenes perspective. We are excited to be one of the "chosen" and look forward to the journey.
I encourage Pepsi to open up more to the crowdsourcing mentality that makes it so powerful by 1) creating a Search engine to connect with interests of the user, 2) allow comment postings to be shared about each of the organizations and 3)post real time readerboard listings so the community can be mobilized, rather than see no real movement.
Finally, all of these organizations, with their amazing ideas and innovative perspectives, need help that can be offered outside the Refresh Everything Project. A contact name, location and e mail address would be helpful so users can offer support, time or resources outside of their vote.
Thanks to Pepsi for creating this great opportunity.

Steve Jennings

Hats off to Bonin and his team for stepping out in to the 'unknown' and trying something new and experimental.

Unleashing $20 million dollars to support 'community cause initiatives' is a bold move.

If this project succeeds, it will encourage more corps and brands to allocate $ to 'high human and community impact' cause marketing campaigns, and that, can only be good news for charities, non profits and 'citizen' beneficiaries.


Hi Bonin,
Well done to you and Beth for this post. How can the project allow ideas to be crowdsourced in the future? I applaud your experts and ambassadors, but consider the many good people out there that would love an easy way to share a thought or idea to make another's better. I'll be voting.

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I'm a big fan of this campaign and was very excited to see how well it's been performing in terms of "super bowl buzz" ratings despite the lack of a TV spot this year (I even wrote a quick post about it:
One element I didn't know about was the submission per state quota, which bolsters one of the core strengths I see I in this effort: the combination of broad and niche appeal. I hope that people take the chance to support the causes closest to them- whether it's a national project that's close to their hearts or a local initiative that's close to their home.
Bravo, Bronin, and thank you for the insider perspective.

Bonin Bough

Thanks for your feedback and to many of you for your kind words. We believe the Pepsi Refresh Project is different from other online contests in that it’s a movement and not a moment. We're awarding $20 million this year to support projects big and small that move communities forward.

Now that we've launched the first round of voting at, we're excited to see the public take part in this effort. More than 141,000 votes were cast in the first three days! Our leaderboard is changing daily and features a variety of ideas from individuals, small towns, young nonprofits and major organizations, all with a desire to make a difference.

We’ll announce the first round of Refresh Grant winners on March 1. These winners will not only receive the funds they need, but through our partners, they’ll also receive the guidance and support they need to turn their ideas from wishful thinking into reality.

Moss Appeal

I became a fan of Pepsi Refresh and Bonin at social media week recently. He continues to respond to critique and conversation about the project with an open mind and responsiveness -- just as best practices of social media dictate. And I would hardly call this program jumping on the bandwagon as one commenter did, but instead just a company embracing the fact that marketing can't stop, but it can do it in a way that reflects the wave of the future AND try to be beneficial.

To those detractors of the program, wouldn't you at least agree its better than a sharp stick in the eye -- or another SuperBowl ad? I would also invite you to review the toolkit available to those who are applying. Just the thought and planning that goes into uploading an application will push more people forward to getting their good idea implemented, whether they "win" or not. This will hopefully create a trickle down benefit of the program.

I just think that a program of this scale by a major corporation can't help but contribute to some change for the better.

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