In early 2011, Pepsi made headlines by announcing that after more than 20 years, they would forego advertising during the Super Bowl. Instead, PepsiCo decided to award more than $20 million in grants to fund community projects. Anyone could submit a grant application online, and award winners would be chosen by popular vote. News of Pepsi’s contest spread across social media, and with each mention, the Pepsi name was further associated with a philanthropic brand image. Contestants extended the brand promotion as they campaigned for their own personal causes, driving more traffic to Pepsi’s website.
In a similar move, P&G, one of the world’s largest marketing organizations, announced in February 2012 that they would reduce their marketing budget by $10 billion over the next four years. Much of the savings would be achieved by shifting their efforts away from traditional offline marketing methods in favor of digital marketing tools such as online banner ads, viral marketing, and social media marketing.