Pepsi Promotes New Grant Program With Six-City Seminar Tour

By Michael O'Connell April 27, 2010, 1:43 PM EDT

Fonzworth Bentley at Pepsi's New York Idea Seminar

Photo: David Goldman/AP Images for Pepsi

Pepsi's newly launched Refresh Project allocates millions of dollars in grant money for consumers with ideas for how to better their communities and the world. To generate awareness of the campaign, the company spent the beginning of 2010 on a six-city tour, targeting students and encouraging them to submit proposals.

The Idea Seminar tour, which ran from February through April 17, included stops in Miami, Chicago, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York. Pepsi worked with New York-based event producers Team Epiphany to brand large venues in each market for public consumer interaction and the private R.S.V.P.-required seminars for students.

“Pepsi targeted students 16 years old and above to participate in an intensive daylong session where they created a plan for making their idea to move the world forward a reality and learned how to apply for a Pepsi Refresh grant,” said Pepsi public relations senior manager Nicole Bradley. “Tutors from took the students through the entire process, from developing an idea and plan of action to applying for a grant and creating a strategy for getting the most votes.”

Producers wanted to keep the crowds small—approximately 100 students in each seminar—but also wanted to guarantee enough interest, so they brought on a handful of celebrities in each market. Musicians Common, Fonzworth Bentley, and Asher Roth made appearances at several of the seminars, speaking with the students about their experiences trying to bring about change.

There are no plans to continue the tour after it's last stop in New York, but the Refresh Project is one of the company's biggest campaigns for 2010, and Bradley hinted at more experiential tie-ins. The program's warm media reception also prompted Pepsi to expand the efforts to Canada.

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