Pepsi will embark on a new frontier on the Internet this week with a 3-D, animated banner dubbed Pepsi’s “First Can on Mars.” The ad, an eight-second animation, resembles a commercial more than a static Web advertising banner. It features a Pathfinder-like space vehicle that bumps into a Pepsi can while scanning the red planet.
The campaign launches today with banner buys on the GeoCities and Progressive Networks sites, and also on some sites represented by the DoubleClick advertising network. The online marketing effort is believed to cost less than $50,000, with financing by Silicon Graphics’ Cosmo Software. The Mountain View, Calif., technology company has developed Cosmo Player, the browser needed to view Virtual Reality Modeling Language, or VRML, animation. The banners are an example of graphics that are easy to download, that some expect advertisers to use increasingly.
For industry watchers, the campaign may prove significant because it could lead the way to a greater promotional online investment by the Somers, N.Y., soft drink marketer, which thus far has not done any ad buys online. “The Web is our next way to reach consumers where they’re hanging out,” said John Vail, Pepsi’s director of new media technologies. The campaign could expand to other young adult-oriented sites if it proves successful, he added.
Some soft drink marketers, such as 7Up, have bought banners, but arch rival Coca-Cola has avoided doing online buys. “The sites picked we’re confident will deliver the VRML banners,” said Vail. “That was our first criteria. . . . The opportunity is enticing because it hits upon our technological imperative.” Cosmo Software’s VRML marketing manager David Frerichs said that currently 7.5 million Web users can view the banners with the Cosmo Player browsers. That number could increase to more than 10 million by year-end.
Pepsi has placed the brunt of its promotional emphasis behind Pepsi World, www.pepsi.com, by tagging the Web address on traditional ad executions, cans and packaging. The site averages about 500,000 daily visits, said Chris Hess, creative director for DDB Interactive, Dallas. Pepsi World attracts mainly young adults or Pepsi’s “GeneratioNext” crowd, via concert simulcasts and movie previews.
Pepsi worked on the campaign with DDBI, Silicon Graphics and Out of the Blue Design, the Mill Valley, Calif.-based Web shop that designed the banner creative.