Top 4 Influencer Marketing Strategies of Pepsi’s #Summergram Campaign

In preparation for the summer, Pepsi has launched their #Summergram campaign, which is a collaboration between Instagram, DJ Khaled, and Chrissy Teigen. Pepsi has had quite a history of collaborating with high profile celebrities like Cardi B, Steve Carrell, Lil Jon, Kendall Jenner etc., so I was interested to see what this campaign constituted, and what kinds of influencer marketing tactics the brand employed to generate successful brand awareness.

Their first post announcing this campaign lists DJ Khaled as an ambassador, including his iconic hashtags and key emoji (🔑). The ‘gram’ suffix in the campaign hashtag also tells us that the campaign will be riding on Instagram features as part of their main appeal and true enough two days ago, @pepsi posted about it:

The idea is that purchasing a bottle of Pepsi in the hot summer not only quenches your thirst but also gives you access to exclusive Instagram filters. People love filters, so this is quite an ingenious way to draw a crowd in to a product / brand awareness campaign. Influencers and celebrities already use filters unique to their accounts in order to attract an audience — following Rihanna for example, automatically adds the ‘Diamond Ball’ filter into your cache. Besides, how many times have we seen people purchase simple consumer products just to unlock or gain access to certain features?

I have broken down Pepsi’s marketing strategy into 4 components:

1. The Custom Campaign Hashtag: #Summergram

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Every good influencer marketing campaign needs a strong hashtag. It has only been a few days since the start of the campaign, but already we see the potential of this new hashtag — it reached an audience of 33.1M between the 17th to the 22nd of May, and 21M people were reached on the 20th of May alone, which was when @djkhaled announced the partnership on his Instagram.

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The hashtag #Summergram already has 46K posts on Instagram, which is natural considering it is quite common and has probably already been used for summer-related things.

How does Pepsi intend to comb through all this collateral and ensure that their content emerges on top? In other words, can Pepsi turn a fairly basic hashtag into an effective brand tool?

We’ll have to see, but for now the 40-foot flamingo (shown below) and an instantly recognizable colour palette seems the way forward.

A cursory scroll through the hashtag feed proves this, where majority of the posts are Pepsi-related.

People have been taking pictures of this giant float emblazoned with the Pepsi logo as it makes its way down the Hudson river, announcing the start of summer and #summergram. Additionally, Pepsi colours and summer paraphernalia have since colonised the hashtag, and we won’t be surprised if people soon associate this once generic hashtag with the Pepsi brand solely.

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The trademark blue with pops of red is iconic, and here are some of the top posts that have used the #summergram hashtag in the last couple of days — obviously Pepsi related.

2. Instagram Filters & GIFs: Catering to Millennials and Gen Z

Pepsi will release a series of bottles with catchy taglines (including ‘Grab Summer By The Bottles’ and ‘Tropic Like It’s Hot’) which are familiar to millennials who know pop music and pop culture phrases, plus Internet users in general. The bottles will also feature a QR code that allows users to unlock Instagram filters and GIFs from Instagram’s GIPHY library throughout the summer.


Millennials love GIFs and filters — watch the IG stories on your feed right now and one of them is bound to contain a filter and/or a GIF. What this effectively makes room for is user-generated content with a higher rate of being shared by followers of Pepsi, and therefore being viewed by people who do not follow Pepsi — a prime example of influencer marketing.

In terms of experiential marketing, this is also a win. We addressed the success of this marketing tactic in our article on Coachella, and Pepsi has done well to ensure that the consumer experience doesn’t end with purchasing the product — the idea is to extend the perks and experience, while at the same time ensuring that a larger pool of people are made privy to the brand. Some of these filters are specific to the region and pay tribute to various aspects of summer like surfing, hiking, lazing on the beach etc. and are available in both English and Spanish.

3. The Campaign Ambassadors

Apart from DJ Khaled and Chrissy Teigen (who has yet to post anything), Pepsi is also working with The Today Show, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, as well as a number of micro and macro-influencers across Instagram. Typical of an internationally renowned brand account, @pepsi has quite a diverse following on Instagram and their top age group comes from the 25-35 year old bracket. From the perspective of brand awareness, Pepsi would want to reach out to people who do not follow them, but might behave similarly to the accounts that follow their ambassadors. This guarantees receptiveness from a potential audience that they haven’t reached yet.

Both Khaled and Teigen’s top follower age bracket is 25-35, and their country distributions are similar, with the US, Brazil, and Italy emerging in the top. However, their audience overlap ratio is quite narrow.

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A unique reach of 32.9M between the three accounts presented above translates to 80% more people Pepsi can reach through this collaboration (who will likely be interested in their content) than if they had gone ahead without the collaboration at all. Could the number have been higher? Very possibly, but it is near impossible for brands to be able to calculate unique reach and overlaps without a platform like Popular Chips.

4. Micro and Macro Influencers

Every good brand awareness campaign engages different tiers of influencers to ensure that their bases are covered. Celebrities give your campaign a face, but influencers ensure that content regarding your brand is constantly being posted, and that Instagram users will see it no matter who they follow.

Examples include macro / celebrity influencers like @therealhannahsimone who posted a semi-instructional regarding how to unlock the QR codes:

As well as @iamjustise who posted a picture with a child fan:

Other micro influencers with between 50-200K followers include: @hungryhipsters, @cassiediamonddd, @angelisborges, @taylor_cuqua, @joyfullygreen, @katarinakatarinna, and @aundruspoole. Here is an example of what the posts look like, all of which follow the same aesthetic of bright and blue.

With two strong faces of their campaign, an army of micro and macro-influencers to bolster the process, a good hashtag and a clear style, Pepsi seems to be well on their way to an interesting campaign. Check back in at the end of summer for a full report on their success including metrics like media value, audience reach etc.

Written by Deesha Menon

Influencer Marketing at Popular Chips. Interested in social issues, narratives, books, social media, and machine learning.

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