Pepsi brings in-store elements to iconic Taste Challenge

The campaign will be stopping at big store openings, and QR codes on packaging invite consumers to participate online.

The Pepsi Ultimate Taste Challenge is currently touring the country in a big rig truck that transforms into a tasting station hitting major festivals and retail launches across Canada. The brand is also adding in-store elements to the 2012 edition of the iconic grassroots campaign that first debuted nearly 40 years ago.

While the focus will be on festival-goers, according to Robb Hadley, director of marketing, PepsiCo Beverages Canada, the challenge will be brought into the retail space through big store openings and launches happening coast to coast.

Pepsi is the first brand in Canada to implement the Samsung SUR40 for Microsoft Surface – a device that sees and responds to touch and objects on a 40-inch, high-definition, multi-touch screen – in a marketing initiative. Live taste testers are given Pepsi and a rival cola in two clear glasses placed on the screen’s surface. The winning cola is revealed on a screen via a barcode on the bottom of the glass. “Traditionally, we used to cover up the cola packaging during the taste challenge,” says Hadley. “By eliminating that we are truly giving consumers an authentic taste test experience.”

The campaign is also being amplified through social media. “Taste challenge ambassadors are equipped with web-enabled phones and tablets that capture video and images for Pepsi’s Facebook page,” says Hadley, who adds that interactive updates showcase real-time challenge results, schedules of upcoming sampling events as well as touting the online game where consumers compete in daily challenges for their chance to win weekly prizes.

And for those who can’t make it to a live taste challenge, there’s a tech option. Pepsi packaging features QR codes that consumers can scan to link directly with the brand’s Facebook site.

“They can participate in an online version of the taste challenge where we are giving away weekly prizes that include tablets, LED TVs, smart cameras, home theatre systems as well as a grand prize that includes $5,000 cash,” says Hadley. “It’s a great way for shoppers to participate in the program, whether they are at the physical taste challenges or not.”