The Pepsico Empire Strikes Back

Brandweek’s Marketer of the Year explains the role of branding in the Power of One.
Roger Enrico has earned the reputation as one of the savviest marketers in business today, but that doesn’t mean he always gets things right. “Madonna was a dumb thing,” he admits with a laugh, assessing his penchant for risk-taking. A tough, but fair leader, Enrico fears nothing except arrogance among his people. “I think marketing is going toward more relationship-building with consumers, almost to the point of intimacy. The companies that best engage consumers and really fulfill their needs will be the best marketers of the 21st century.” Enrico is positioning PepsiCo to join that elite group. And while technology is going to be an important part of marketing’s future, the “basic principles and the emotion of it all is still going to be what separates the great marketersrfrom everyone else.” Enrico elaborated to Brandweek’s Karen Benezra.
Brandweek: Can you explain the notion of the Power of One?
Enrico: I thought about the tremendous capacity of our company in terms of the number of interactions we have with consumers across the globe every day and the way in which we reach people – from our advertising to in-store, to the direct contacts we have in restaurants. And it just seemed to me there was an enormous opportunity to think about linkages across them. You know, in all of our businesses, all we do is sell is a little bit of fun, a little bit of pleasure. We’re not making nuclear weapons or aircraft engines. And the transactions we have with people are millions of moments of truth.
Any time we think it can make a big difference, whether reaching our consumers, improving our competitiveness, or dramatically improving productivity or quality, we should roll up to the highest common denominator in the corporation, rather than doing it on our own. I don’t expect our people to spend entire days thinking how they can implement the Power of One, but I want them to break down the barriers between us and seek out the best ideas and the best solutions, whatever their source.
BW: You”ve also talked about creating a new era for marketing at PepsiCo that doesn’t only focus on bottom line thinking.
RE: Obviously, the bottom line over time is important, because we’re in this business to make money. But the question is, are you in this thing for the long haul? We”ve been an exciting company and we”ve done a lot of great things. But too often we think of ourselves as sprinters and I want us to think of ourselves as marathon runners.
In my mind the best thing a person can say about a brand is that it’s their favorite. That implies something more than simply they like the package, or the taste. It means they like the whole thing – the company, the image, the value, the quality and on and on. So as we think about the measurements of our business, if we’re only looking at this year’s bottom line and profits, we’re missing the picture. We should be looking at market share, but also at where we stand vis a vis our competitors in terms of consumer awareness and regard for our brands. You always know where you stand in the P&L because you see it every month. But what you need to know, with almost the same sense of immediacy, is where you stand with consumers and your customers.
BW: Risk taking is a big part of Pepsi’s corporate culture. How do you ensure that people take intelligent risks?
RE: That’s a good question, because in retrospect, I”ve taken a few less-than-intelligent risks myself over the years. Balancing that pendulum is maybe one of the most difficult things to do. But I guess I”d rather have us make a few errors from time to time than have us not take risks and not try to push the edge of the envelope. What we do need to think about, however, is sustainability in what we do. It seems to me that risk-taking for momentary gain may very well not be a good risk at all. But risk-taking for something that can add incrementally and help build your brand over a period of time, is something I’m more comfortable with. So the flash in the pan stuff are not the moments I’m most proud of as a marketer.
BW: What practices would you expect to bring to PepsiCo in the next year or so that aren’t there now?
RE: There are three things I”ve asked people around here to think about and I sort of have my buzzwords around them. The first is the notion that average is awful. We have to shoot for the highest standard in everything we do. Not only setting targets and going for aggressive growth, but if we can’t do something that we’re really proud of, or it doesn’t have sustainability, we really ought to be wondering whether we should do it at all. Second, we need to focus on the front line, because the cumulative effect of those transactions and how well they take place is perhaps more important than all the marketing we do. And third is the Power of One thing. We need to be open and courageous enough to adapt other people’s ideas.
If I can help our people see things in ways they hadn’t quite seen them before and open their eyes and thoughts and creativity to new approaches, then I will think I”ve done pretty well.
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