What’s the deal with space?

Under Armour. Samsung. And now Adidas. It’s the latest brand to jump on the intergalactic space wagon. The brand recently signed a multi-year partnership with the International Space Station US National Laboratory. Adidas says the focus of the partnership will be to focus on innovation and product testing in microgravity.

Earlier this year, Adidas delivered soccer balls to the ISS during a cargo mission. The balls were then tested, seeing how they reacted with gravity or air resistance distorting the shape. While those tests are still being processed, the brand said it could lead to alterations into the design of the ball such as what materials or textures are used. But is this truly research for product improvement or just another stunt? Probably, a bit of both.

The commercialization of space over the years. 

It started in 1962. Omega’s Speedmaster watch was worn by US astronaut Walter Schirra during the country’s fifth manned space mission, Mercury-Atlas 8. Aboard the Sigma 7, Schirra orbited the Earth seven times.

Coca-Cola was next in 1985 when they started designing a “space can” for astronauts to drink during missions. Pepsi got wind of the experiment and developed its own. The marketing battle became ugly, with US Senators began lobbying for one brand or the other.

Then there was Kit-Kat (2012), Red Bull (2012), Hyundai (2015), and a slew of others as of late. There’s even a new media brand, Supercluster that was built specifically to get people excited about space again.

And while technically, NASA and it’s astronauts aren’t allowed to accept endorsements while working at the space agency that may soon change. NASA is currently working with two major aerospace companies, SpaceX and Boeing, to send astronauts to and from the International Space Station. And the logos of these companies will be emblazoned on the vehicles and rockets that launch crews into space, which was taboo in the early days of NASA.

On top of that, NASA’s new committee chair is focused on figuring out how NASA can explore commercial opportunities. “Capitalism works really well here on Earth. There’s no reason we shouldn’t be embracing it in [space].”

Why it’s hot:
“Space” just might be a mandatory in the next brief while product placement in space could be the next frontier. Brand logos on the sides of rockets? Astronauts as influencers? We’ll have to wait and see.

Get paid to drink Pepsi (and eat Fritos)…

Pepsi is launching a PepCoin loyalty program that rewards you for buying both a single-serve beverage and a Frito-Lay snack by sending money to PayPal and Venmo accounts. If you scan enough codes on bottles and bags, you’ll receive a little bit of cash. You’ll have to earn $2 before it goes to your account, but this is real spending money.

How it works:

  • Buy a PepsiCo beverage and Frito-Lay snack.
  • Scan the codes on the bag and under the bottle cap with your phone.
  • Link the program to your PayPal or Venmo.
  • Once you accumulate $2, the money automatically transfers to your account with Venmo or PayPal.

It’s not a dollar for dollar point system, each transaction earns a person about 37 cents. So, like, 5.4 purchases.

Why it’s hot: Companies with multiple brands are increasingly using loyalty programs as a vehicle to sell across their portfolio and drive awareness of the many different products within it. With the exception of credit and debit cards, that apply cash back as a credit to your account, cash back incentives in the form of actual cash have yet to be tested (as far as I could tell). Truly successful loyalty programs thrive on creating engaging experiences and emotional connections with their consumers — it’ll be interesting to see whether Pepcoin will be able to establish a true connection with customers, past the initial shock and enroll stage and whether it’ll change how loyalty and rewards programs provide benefits to consumers in the future.

Sources: Engadget, Thrillist, MediaPostPYMNTS.com, Pepcoin, Pepsi press release

The Pepsi Challenge Returns

In the 80’s, the Pepsi Challenge became a pop culture sensation before Twitter could make pop culture sensations in seconds. And now Pepsi is bringing an interpretation of this campaign back to celebrate the original’s 40th anniversary.

The new campaign will be socially-based and content-led through a combination of 6 celebrity brand ambassadors, social consumer challenges, and local interpretations of the campaign around the world. Also, every time consumers around the world use the hashtag #PepsiChallenge in their social media channels, the brand will make a donation to an organization committed to bring light to people around the world.

The brand will be working with Usher, Serena Williams, Colombia and Real Madrid soccer star James Rodriguez, Usain Bolt, designer Nicola Formichetti, and social media phenom Jerome Jarre throughout 2015, to announce a series of challenges from March to the end of the year, which PepsiCo Global Beverages Group chief marketing officer Kristin Patrick says are designed to push consumers to push themselves and dream big (…not to mention, sell product). “The challenges will ask consumers to do things, submit things, it could be a piece of writing, a selfie, the range will be from challenging to things anyone can do,” says Patrick. “In the past we’ve been linked to sports and music. Consumers passions are evolving and the world of culture is increasingly connected—film and fashion are connected to music, all these entry points all work together. And if you look at celebrities today, while the do stand in a particular genre, they also have different points of interest across culture. So our challenges will be across technology, sports, music, and design.”

Why it’s hot:

In today’s cluttered digital world, a simple re-launch or celebration of the original wouldn’t likely break through. Pepsi’s interpretation of this new campaign is an effort to take the spirit of the original success and make it relevant way beyond the taste of Pepsi and into the lifestyle of consumers.

“Pepsi, as a brand, is much bigger than a cola and is considered a pop culture brand,” says Jakeman. “We have to innovate around the brand from a product perspective so that we’re meeting the changing consumer demands but in our marketing we’re moving beyond just the core Pepsi advertising and really advocating the trademark that encompasses all the brands while still retaining the Pepsi lifestyle promise.”