PepsiCo (PEP) announced recently that after 23 years as a Super Bowl advertising staple, it's going to sit out the 2010 game and instead focus its advertising dollars on online advertising and social media.
Far from seeing this as bad news for the Super Bowl, most commentators are debating whether it could be bad for Pepsi. "It's a bit of a gamble to walk away from such an iconic event," Northwestern University marketing professor Tim Calkins told the Wall Street Journal. "I think there could be a bit of backlash."
But Pepsi has been seeing impressive results from its online NFL sponsorships -- and according to VP Frank Cooper, its new campaign would be hard to explain in a mere 30-second ad spot. The Pepsi Refresh Project will give grants to community projects suggested and chosen by Pepsi fans.
Pepsi was last year's biggest Super Bowl sponsor, but the football event is unlikely to suffer from the loss. Most of the ad time has already sold, and another company to sit out -- FedEx -- did so because, even during a dip, Super Bowl ad prices are still so high - between $2.5 million and $3 million for a 30-second spot.
And even PepsiCo isn't pulling out completely -- its Frito-Lay unit will still be advertising Doritos during the big game.