PepsiCo asks SXSWers, “What if” and gives them the tools to answer
This week AOL Advertising had the chance to sit down with Matt Casebeer of MAYA Designs and David Weiner, manager of global, digital and social media at PepsiCo. Their PepsiCo presence at SXSW featured the Pepsi, Doritos, Mountain Dew and Brisk brands and centered around the theme of convergence. It asked SXSW attendees the question, “what if?.” For example:
What if products became more social?
With the new Pepsi social vending machine, you can send your friend a Diet Pepsi during exams, or a Mountain Dew to say congrats on that awesome coding job.
What if the digital industry put talent in the driver’s seat?
I was able to build my newest team member combining heart and a sense of humor with a good work ethic in a machine, designed to look like a phone booth.
What if 200 SXSW attendees recorded their every step from panels, doodles and hours of sleep to their astrological sign, tattoo placements and attitude throughout the day?
That’s a lot of data. For Dave, it’s all about providing value to attendees. By passing out 200 LiveScribe pens and 500 SXSW-specific interactive books, PepsiCo was able to recruit visual thinkers, and take a pulse of the conference at any given moment. LiveScribe pens write, record audio and have a tiny camera at the base, making it easy to upload any notes, panels, or drawings from SXSW. They also uncovered and united an underground network of doodlers. Having people try to think more visually both with the Livescribe pens and the wall to wall whiteboards at PepsiCo Central, their main exhibition here in Austin, has been a new way to engage with attendees at SXSW that’s more personal. Proving this is the Zeitgeist board; a Penn-Station-esque board displaying a visual representation of realtime tweets and LiveScribe pen uploads from SXSWers who were lucky enough to obtain the most coveted of swag this year.
The Zeitgeist board was just the beginning. In addition to the exhibit in the Austin Convention Center, PepsiCo is working on events, real-time brainstorming sessions, a content partnership with Bloomberg West, and 150 in store promotions at local retailers around Texas.
We asked Dave and Matt what the working relationship between MAYA Designs and PepsiCo was like. Dave described the creative process, “It was a lot of brainstorming. The Zeitgeist board was always going to be a part of it. We named it PepsiCo Central with the idea of content curation. That name brought the railroad theme with it. Then everything went retro and throwback with telephone booths… suddenly the convergence of analog and digital started to make sense.”
PepsiCo was also interested in cultivating a surprise factor. They didn’t seed anything or tell people what to expect this year in Austin. The content started to roll in naturally as people picked up the pens at PepsiCo central. Dave told us that, “watching people’s reactions to the Zeitgeist board has been fun – people’s jaws dropped.”
For Matt, it’s important to be at events like SXSW. “These are our concept cars. This is our auto show. It’s a good opportunity to play around with some things we’re thinking about. The SXSW attendee really gets it. For us to provide value back has been the number one goal, we did that with the [MAYA and Pepsi] partnership.”
Attendees who’ve gotten the pens have been enthusiastic to say the least. Matt explained how the pens are programmed with games via a custom SXSW book and users get points for activities they complete. He told us, “We have two people who already have higher scores than I do. I’m the guy that made and developed the book and I know where everything is. That’s how excited people are.” Pen-holders have the chance to upload their information directly to the Zeitgeist board, to be a living part of the activation.
The content and data gathered gathered this week is designed live outside of Austin as well. The plethora of information captured can be analyzed and curated to give those who didn’t get the chance to visit SXSW a real taste of the enthusiasm, the activities and the overall personality of the conference – beyond the #SXSW hashtag.
At the end of our chat, Matt looked at me and said, “Would you like one?” I now had in my hand the Livescribe pen: the epitome of cool, not to mention expensive, swag at SXSW. A pen that uploads your doodles, challenges you to games, and records your thoughts using both audio and a tiny camera right at the base of the pen.
Since Saturday, I’ve been doodling, recording and tagging with my pen. While my drawing skills haven’t improved, I am enjoying the freedom of recording notes with the audio tool, and then being able to use pen and paper to think more visually and more freely. The activities also force you to analyze your state of being each day. Today, my foot soreness level is at a 4 out of 10, I’m running on 5 hours of sleep and I’ve heard 4 buzzwords so far (monetized, crowd-sourced, hyper-local and partnership). Reader challenge: pick out the buzzwords in this post!
Check out the latest updates, doodles and tweets at
Keywords: sxsw 2012