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Pepsi campaign targets African-American moms with print, online effort

By Kenneth Hein
(September 18, 2009) Pepsi is targeting a somewhat overlooked demographic -- African-American moms -- with a digital community where such consumers will be asked to share personal and inspirational thoughts.

The effort, promoted across various media with the tagline "We inspire," will serve as the cornerstone of Pepsi's African-American marketing outreach for 2010. Pepsi is aiming to build buzz for Pepsiweinspire.com via Facebook and print ads, in Essence and Black Enterprise, featuring actress Taraji P. Henson reflecting on the love she has for her mother.

Pepsi has tapped other celebrities to share their thoughts on the site's six tenants: Love, laughter, hope, joy, beauty and wisdom. The next ad will feature That's So Raven's Raven-Symoné and then Queen Latifah. Singer Keyshia Cole is also featured on the site.

Beginning next month, 30-second TV ads featuring Symoné and Henson will begin appearing on BET. The RPM Group handles.

In February, Pepsi will begin promoting the site through its retail partners. The brand will distribute short magazines based on the site's six themes as well as coupons. Pepsi is also mulling radio ads and is readying a "full court press online" next year, said Lauren Scott, senior manager of multicultural marketing for the brand.

Scott said the push is a natural offshoot of Pepsi's overarching optimism message featured in its "Refresh Everything" push. "What we wanted to capture is the strength, joy and wisdom of the African-American market. Particularly in these tough times, this group can look around every day and find optimism," she said.

Brand-specific women-targeted social networking and blogs are becoming fairly common as advertisers race to woo so-called "mommy bloggers." General Mills, Johnson & Johnson and Procter & Gamble are going after such bloggers with social networking efforts.

However, Pepsi's push is one of the first that's focused expressly at African-American mothers, industry watchers said. "There is room for this kind of inspirational network," said Lynne Johnson, svp, social media at the Advertising Research Foundation. "There are no social networks aimed at African-American moms, at least from what I've seen."

Mom Central Consulting's Stacy DeBroff agreed that Pepsi is one of the few addressing the demo via social networking: "There are many Caucasian blogs. This one is unusual. The demographic may be extraordinarily grateful to get to know each other."

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