Pepsi Sees a Chance to Fill Newspapers’ Void

From Gatorade’s “Replay” of two high school football rival teams to Pepsi’s “Dear Mr. President” viral video campaign, PepsiCo is making a big splash in social and digital media. Pepsi’s point man on these efforts has been Bonin Bough, who oversees all things tweet, blog and YouTube-related at the company. Since joining Pepsi last fall, Bough has pushed for brand initiatives that drive and create meaningful conversations with consumers. Hence Trop50’s “The Juice,” a new, online community where women can talk about everything from diaper rashes to pancake mixes to time management. These, and many other upcoming efforts, are indicative of where PepsiCo is taking social media: from “campaigns to conversations,” and likewise, “from impressions to connections.” Bough spoke with Brandweek about the  media landscape, how the recession is causing marketers to be more experimental, and what he does all day at Pepsi. Some excerpts are below:

You’re the first digital marketing guru we’ve interviewed in this space, at least recently. (Lately, we’ve been chatting with CMOs.) So, what exactly do you do as PepsiCo’s global director of digital and social media?
Bonin Bough: My primary role involves thinking about, “how do we start integrating social media into the overall organization?” It’s everything from internal communications to our external marketing programs, not just brand marketing. So, questions like, “How do we look at some common platforms and services that we might be able to use across the organization?” And, “What are some new strategies and platforms that we might explore?”

BW: What’s a typical day like? What do you wear? Who do you talk to? Are you on Twitter all day?
BB: Nothing is ever typical about my day…But I’m a big suit guy. I came from an agency, so it was either suit or jeans. Although I will say, PepsiCo is a slacks-and-shirt culture, but I don’t really own just slacks and shirts. I figure, once I get the [suit] pants on, I might as well go all the way. Fridays, you’ll see me in jeans.

I’m communicating on Twitter; monitoring reports across the brands; making sure we’re reading influencers so we can see what’s breaking; what things we should be focusing on or reading about, including trend reports, and there are always lots of meetings and planning sessions. We also have a lot going on with South by Southwest [PepsiCo sponsored live coverage of the 2009 music, film and interactive festival through tweets, blogs and live interviews via SxSw’s BlogTalkRadio.] That can all be part of my daily planner.

BW: Prior to joining PepsiCo, you led Weber Shandwick’s global interactive, social and emerging media practice. How are the two roles different?
BB: [In this position], you have a deeper and longer view and you’re a lot closer to the business. It’s a totally different mindset and it’s really exciting. The reason it’s different in this job is, you are more closely tied to driving business goals and the company’s transformation versus just programs. I shouldn’t say that, [considering] I spent ten years of my life on the agency side. But here, we’re looking at the sustainability of programs across a number of years. It’s not just about moving from campaign to campaign. It’s about, “How do you develop processes and appropriately plan resources so you are growing the resources and the results year after year,” and that you actually have sustainable programs that you are creating and crafting.

BW: Top three items on your to-do list at moment?
BB: I’m focusing on our relationship with Trop50 and BlogHer [the leading women’s blogging community]. We definitely see women bloggers as an amazing group of folks with which we’d like to build long-term and lasting relationships.