PepsiCo brand manager Brad Jakeman would like to work with just one ad shop—if he could. "It sucks having to manage 30 agencies," he said Monday morning at the kickoff panel for Creative Week 2012. "It really sucks. There's a huge part of me that would love just one phone call to make, but it's practically impossible [to see] how that's going to happen," he said.
That position shouldn't come as a surprise, given the fact that the brand reportedly slashed its agency roster dramatically earlier this year. But Jakeman's comments offer some insight into the thinking of the company's top leadership in the wake of a new global campaign launch that the company is billing as its first coordinated campaign worldwide. Previously "it had never really been managed as a global brand," said Jakeman, noting, for example, that the logo was not entirely consistent across all markets. Jakeman, PepsiCo's president of global enjoyment and chief creative officer of the global beverage group, also described the new campaign—titled "Live for Now"—as "a seminal moment in the history of the brand as we take our first steps toward managing our brand on a global basis."
Jakeman was joined on stage at SoHo's City Winery by Facebook's director of global creative solutions Mark D'Arcy, and Lee Stimmel, head of the Columbia Record's Creative Agency, the in-house marketing arm the label launched seven months ago. Moderated by Wired contributing editor Warren Berger, the discussion opened on the new Pepsi campaign, launched last week with the announcement of www.pepsipulse.com, a new branded pop culture site. As for the challenges of making a content play like Pepsi Pulse, "the burden of getting it right is much greater than [traditional] advertising," said Jakeman. "We have to figure out how to publish content in real time, so it's a profound change in the behavior of the brand."
The panel's advertised topic—"The Big Picture" or "new creative opportunities"—ended up being a broad survey of the client-agency-media-consumer landscape. D'Arcy, for his part, dispelled any notions that Facebook was looking to replace advertising agencies by forging direct relationships with clients. "We love working with agencies," he said. "We have no interest in becoming the world's social agency." The question still up in the air for the industry, he says, is structure, remuneration and credit—in other words, what various roles are needed to create campaigns for the new media landscape. "If you look at the film business, how many people it takes" to make a movie—everyone knows who needs to be hired, and how they should be credited, says D'Arcy. "Nobody bats an eyelid."
Stimmel also dismissed the idea that Columbia's in-house creative shop had any interest in cutting out agencies. "Our biggest concern starting the agency," he said, was "will the [advertising] agencies look at us as a threat." Rather, it's working with them. "We have about four or five shows in development, one that's going to be on a network," said Stimmel, noting that one, conceived by an artist, "we actually worked with BBDO on, in kind of a branded entertainment play."
"Our clients are 125 artists on Columbia Records," he said.
Pepsi, meanwhile, is invested in helping its agency partners navigate the transformation of the industry. "We are really trying to work with the agencies to figure out what is their business model for the future because as factories for television commercials their roles are becoming greatly reduced," Jakeman said. "They're not anymore the hub of the whole kind of brand wheel, as they once were when brands kind of started and finished with the 30-second television commercial." Among the agencies Pepsi works with, as mentioned by Jakeman Monday: BBDO, TBWA, Organic, OMD and Tracy Locke.
Still, "I don't believe in the lead agency," Jakeman said. "The lead agency role now needs to be taken by [the client]."