B. Bonin Bough, global director, digital and social media at PepsiCo Inc., believes it’s imperative for companies to be at places where the most forward thinkers are.

This story first appeared in the June 30, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“Pepsi has become the largest partner in forward-thinking digital events, such as South by Southwest, Internet Week and Blog Her,” said Bough, who has been tasked with helping the PepsiCo brand expand from traditional advertising into digital social brand interaction.

PepsiCo has undertaken several initiatives to foster relationships with emerging technologies, build loyalty programs and fund projects at the local level. It created an open call for partnerships and asked companies to submit their emerging technologies with the opportunity to present to all Pepsi’s marketing and agency partners. “We agree to work with up to 10 of them to launch a pilot with. But mobile is at the forefront of this,” he said.

“We used to sit back and wait for platforms to hit scale. At the end of the day, Facebook has 400 million users. We sell almost nine billion products a day. None of the platforms that are out there are scale. But we have scale. How can we take emerging technologies which are going to be the new backbone to customer engagement and connection, and how do we bring our scale to it? We print 40 million cups every single summer. Imagine if we put a Foursquare program on 40 million cups?”

PepsiCo recently launched a program called Gatorade Mission Control, where it attempts to turn one of the largest sports brands in the world into the largest participatory brand. “Part of our Foursquare partnership integration is check-in. We can visually represent when people are checking in to purchase products at stadiums, games and athletic events, and create data visualizations that are pumped directly into the marketing force.”

Finally, he showed a video of Pepsi’s Refresh Challenge. Thousands of people campaign to get funding for their local projects and only 32 win. The Pepsi Refresh Project will award more than $20 million this year to fund ideas that make a positive impact on their community.

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