How PepsiCo uses data to power creativity

July 15, 2021

Written by Benedict Nicholson

Recently, we sat down with PepsiCo’s Lauren Powell to talk about how her team works to transform trends into successful campaigns and how data can power creative.

Every successful modern creative campaign is powered by insight and data. Lauren Powell, Analytics & Social Listening Lead with PepsiCo’s Creators League Studio, joined NewsWhip CEO Paul Quigley for a discussion on using content analytics and social listening to support the creative process at a recent webinar. 

Looking for content and trends to promote on media channels can be difficult, but Powell and her team at the Creators League Studio always start with the global insights framework developed by PepsiCo. It revolves around human drivers and motivators, such as security and connection. Since the way those manifest every year is different, the team at PepsiCo has begun to look at macro trends and some of the sub-trends within them to identify brand passion points. When doing this, they look for areas they want to talk about, or partnerships that they already have. This keeps the topics they explore relevant, specific, and consumer-centric. 

It’s easy to want to jump on every trend, but Powell emphasizes the importance of staying within territories that work for your brand. “[If you don’t have guardrails,] you’re not going to really stand for anything. You have to know your brand identity, your brand values, and make sure that what you’re speaking to, you have a right to speak to,” said Powell. 

We live in a time of seemingly constant crisis, and Powell spoke to how NewsWhip is helping with PepsiCo’s corporate social responsibility. “NewsWhip Spike has been a huge part of our process in the last year. It hasn’t been the greatest year for culture and society in general, so when something major happens that’s going to affect a lot of people, we want to be sensitive to that. We want to make sure that we’re not posting funny memes and/or advertisements at a time that nobody wants to see that,” said Powell. “So, we are using tools like NewsWhip to monitor things like, how big is the conversation? What does interest look like? What is the tonality and the sentiment, and tuning into that to make sure we are being appropriate with, when, and what we post.”

When it comes to advertising, PepsiCo works on some huge campaigns, but the company’s major event each year is the Super Bowl, which they have also employed NewsWhip technology to help with. NewsWhip is one of their main screens during the night so they can track what is trending. If there’s something that mentions the company and is going viral, PepsiCo will work with community managers and copywriters to see if this is an opportunity to engage, respond, or retweet. It’s a necessity for the high-energy activation needed on such a hectic night. 

Being cognizant of consumer needs is integral for brands, and having a technology to monitor those needs is incredibly helpful. By staying true to their brand identity and values and using tools like NewsWhip Spike to track relevant trends, PepsiCo is able to transform trends into successful activations. 

If you’d like to explore how data can power your creative campaigns, check out the NewsWhip product suite here.

Benedict Nicholson

In addition to leading the NewsWhip Research Center in New York, Benedict Nicholson manages partnerships with internationally recognized media outlets furthering data journalism, which includes NewsWhip’s Data for Democracy program. Benedict also facilitates consultations with communicators from the top 10 public relations agencies across America and Europe and with Fortune 500 brands to discuss consumer engagement trends and effective media monitoring. Email Benedict via

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