Friday, February 6, 2009
The red, white and blue Pepsi logo, Nooyi told Bartiromo and the audience, has always been a catalyst for positive change, and the new design and advertising campaign are, in the tradition of Pepsi, leading rather than mirroring culture.
“Remember ‘The choice of a new generation?’ ” Nooyi said. “Pepsi is more than a refreshing beverage; it’s the quintessential taste of America. We said, ‘The time has come to refresh brand Pepsi, so consumers can think of it as refreshing themselves.’”
Steve Reinemund, the dean of business at Wake Forest University and the former PepsiCo CEO preceding Nooyi, introduced Nooyi to the audience. He praised PepsiCo’s commercials for Super Bowl XLIII, saying that PepsiCo topped perennial Super Bowl favorite Anheuser-Busch, the makers of Budweiser and Bud Light. The commercial for PepsiCo’s Doritos, the Super Bowl’s top spot, was one of the many consumer entries in the company’s “Crash the Super Bowl” promotion.
“Pittsburgh might have won the football game, but Indra’s team won the day,” Reinemund said.
PepsiCo had several other acclaimed ads during the Super Bowl. One was a memorable musical montage to Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young.” The commercial chronicles American culture, culminating in will.i.am’s 2009 take on the Dylan classic. A spot for Diet Pepsi Max shows men having mishaps and then exclaiming “I’m good!”
Bartiromo, the anchor of CNBC’s “The Closing Bell with Maria Bartiromo,” asked Nooyi whether PepsiCo’s advertising campaigns make a conscience effort to reflect an aura of happiness and optimism during one of the toughest economic periods in our nation’s history.
Nooyi pointed to the redesigned red, white and blue Pepsi logo. “The logo, after all, depicts a smile,” she said. “We want to bring a smile to people’s eyes. We’re telling people to believe in themselves. We’re telling people things will be okay. We’re going through a tough time right now, but things will get better.”
She noted that consumers, more careful and cautious with their money, are looking for value. PepsiCo, she said, understands that mindset. “Delivering real value to the consumer is a priority for PepsiCo.”
During the discussion, Nooyi addressed members of the eight teams of MBA students, who had come from some of the country’s best business schools to compete in the Marketing Summit’s flagship competition.
Nooyi told the students said that companies today are looking for the absolute best. She advised students who can’t immediately find work because of the economy to give back to their communities. “Everyone is wishing there were more hands to help,” she said.
Fortune Magazine has ranked Nooyi as the No. 1 Most Powerful Woman in Business in the World for three consecutive years. U.S. News and World Report named Nooyi as one of America’s Best Leaders, and she made the Time’s 2008 and 2007 list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.
The conversation between Nooyi and Bartiromo was a welcome respite for the MBA students in the throes of an intense weekend competing for a $50,000 top prize in the 36-hour marketing case competition.
Margot Woolley, a second-year MBA student at the University of Notre Dame, said she was impressed with Nooyi, and she was also happy for the short break.
“You don’t get the chance to hear a CEO very often, and it was worth taking the break from the case competition. We’ll go back from this feeling refreshed.”
Lesley Ram, a second year Wake Forest MBA student, helped organized the Friday event at Wait Chapel.
“I am grateful to the student co-chairs who nominated me to take the lead for such a prestigious event,” she said. “Planning the logistics of an event of this magnitude truly required the assistance of many great minds and dedicated individuals and utilizing the resources and skills of my peers and university staff members. This has not only provided me with great leadership experience, but also has provided me the opportunity to work with top-level executives of a multi-billion dollar company. This is an experience that not many individuals in my position will ever enjoy.”