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How Pepsi is putting the spotlight on Black-owned restaurants with its marketing dollars

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Pepsi wants to put a spotlight on Black-owned businesses to address their ongoing funding issues. Pepsi is reintroducing its program, “Pepsi Dig In Day” with chef Carla Hall, to spend its marketing dollars on these businesses.

Pepsi Dig In Day returns for its second year on Nov. 5 and will collaborate with Black-owned restaurants across the country to host lively brunches where fans can sit and enjoy complimentary music and drinks.

The brand will cover the tab between $2,000 and $5,000 at 20 selected Black-owned restaurants, in cities including Atlanta, Philadelphia and Los Angeles. The brunches will feature a mix of live DJs and custom menus. In all, Pepsi plans on spending between $40,000 and $100,000 with this event.

Social media users can also participate by tagging Pepsi Dig In on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok or Facebook with a photo or video of their favorite Black-owned restaurant; selected fans can win $5,000 for themselves and $5,000 for the restaurant.

“The $50 million PepsiCo has put towards Black-owned businesses over five years is a part of our company’s larger commitment of over $400 million towards advancing racial equality within the company, industry and communities we serve,” said Scott Finlow, Global CMO Foodservice at PepsiCo. It is the brand’s goal to maintain this momentum by creating programs, funds and resources that Black restaurant owners can use to grow and scale their businesses.

“Black-owned businesses often lack access to the resources and support needed to scale and remain sustainable in a changing economy,” said Detavio Samuels, CEO of REVOLT, an American music-oriented digital cable television network founded by Sean “Diddy” Combs. “We are proud to partner with PepsiCo on such an important initiative that will create more visibility, access and opportunity for Black-owned restaurants while setting a great example for brands across industries looking for organic ways to empower Black entrepreneurs.”

Pepsi wants to ensure that support for Black-owned businesses doesn’t lose momentum after the topic spiked in conversation in 2020.

“We recognize the importance of supporting Black-owned restaurants every day but Pepsi Dig In Day is one day dedicated to celebrating and uplifting them as well as advancing our mission to driving awareness around the challenges Black restaurateurs face while highlighting the breadth of incredible cuisine that they contribute to the culinary industry,” said Finlow. 

Pepsi used digital ads and short form videos as part of its Pepsi Dig In Day campaign. A number of restaurants are participating in the event, including FoodChasers’ Kitchen in Elkins Park, Pa., Mimosa on Grand in Oakland, Calif, 7th + Grove in Tampa, Fla., Dukunoo Jamaican Kitchen in Miami, Fla., and The Greasy Spoon in Houston, Texas.

Pepsi is using organic social and paid media across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. “Each platform’s audience and demographic vary slightly, so it’s important to tailor our messaging to each cohort on the platform they prefer,” said Finlow as he commented on the brand focusing on the WHY behind its work and letting the food from these restaurants shine. To inspire fans on their own platforms, Black-owned restaurants will be highlighted by prominent foodie content creators in their respective cities.

Finlow said 50% of Pepsi Dig In Day ad spend was dedicated to digital and social and the remainder is dedicated to the on-the-ground activations. With that said, it is unclear how much of PepsiCo’s advertising budget is allocated to this campaign as Finlow declined to share overall budget specifics. According to Kantar data, the brand spent a little over $161 million so far on advertising efforts in 2022.

A McKinsey Study showed that Black-owned businesses face a harder recovery road. “This is a sustainable program and for Pepsi, this has to go above a one to two year ‘activation’ and make an intentional decision to fund this program over a long period of time because the recovery will be long,” said Jeffrey L. Bowman, CEO of Reframe, a tech enabled change management platform.

To expand its program, Pepsi is looking for new partners to add support to its resources for Black restaurant owners. To accomplish this, Black Restaurants Deliver helps identify new partners that can benefit from online marketing tools and platforms that drive direct orders and delivery.

“We’re looking forward to what’s ahead, knowing that through our platform, corporate partners and the community, we’ll continue to create impactful programs that really move the needle for Black-owned restaurants,” said Finlow.

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