Trendsetter Masthead

Frank Cooper

Frank Cooper III, Global Chief Marketing Officer of Consumer Engagement for PepsiCo, Inc.

Like us on Facebook

See the current issue
of The Internationalist magazine

Find out how to sponsor an issue of Trendsetters

Trendsetters: PepsiCo’s Frank Cooper Talks about Transformation in a World where Mobile is a New Center of Gravity

Frank Cooper III, Global Chief Marketing Officer of Consumer Engagement for PepsiCo, Inc., thrives in a marketing space that overturns traditional models to create game-changing global initiatives designed to impact consumers, while also shaping the future of the industry. He is charged with leading brand marketing strategy, brand development, and brand activation for global platforms across all beverages, and in doing so operates at the juncture of entertainment, sports, music, technology, media, content, contemporary culture and, of course, consumer products across 186 markets in the PepsiCo system.

So what makes him excited?

Speaking last week at the Mobile Media Summit, he shared his global dream of connectivity and consistency. He believes that as more of the global population moves to mega cities, mobile connectivity via these important mass urban hubs will be critical to the import and blending of contemporary cultures. “Mobile,” he says, “will be the glue.” His hope is that content can be distributed with the push of button and connected culturally through global lines. “Pepsi Pulse is doing this now online, and will soon migrate to the mobile space. And we’re already seeing a global blending occurring. For example, Hispanic music is now the fastest growing music in Russia! Who could have anticipated that?”

He adds, “Mobile today is becoming a new center of gravity with 6.5 billion mobile subscribers worldwide and a phone storage capacity that’s 1000x better than just 8 or 9 years ago. It’s hardware in your pocket with computing power that not only controls objects far away, but connects us as a people. That’s where the excitement is!”

Despite his passion for new marketing opportunities, Frank Cooper is also a pragmatist. He shared his concerns about mobile’s current challenges, and while discussing “necessary transformations,” offered his thoughts on other key areas of the business—Talent, Data, Measurement and Agencies—and how they must shift to meet the new needs of consumers, society and marketing strategy.

He suggests that mobile’s biggest challenge is disrupting an entire ecosystem that is based around TV. And Frank Cooper doesn’t believe that television translates well to mobile devices. He sees mobile content as short, fast, often instantly-generated and with a personalized connection. For him, the speed issue is critical, but so is the brand’s voice; it has to be consistent, but appropriate to mobile. “Mobile,” he says, “is less about how to advertise on the device than it is about how to integrate the brand into the experience that people want from mobile. How do we deliver something of value, but not interrupt? Context does matter in regard to the creative idea, so it is important to create for mobile only.”

He adds, “We’re now playing at the margins when we have to change how a brand behaves in the mobile space. How do brands engage and bring value to the mobile experience? And where do you find people native to the space that are also able to create good content?” He says that Pepsi is pushing this change—both internally and externally. “It takes collaboration to build content and experiences that meet the promise and demands of mobile. It’s not easy. However, we are focused on becoming a mobile company—not a company that simply gets mobile.”

Mobile & Meaningful Data

Meaningful Data is Frank Cooper’s term for “Big Data.” He defines it as data that’s actionable, and he considers data both the “promise and peril” of mobile. “Pepsi has plenty of data. For example, we have information from over 100,000 truck routes. The hard part is making sense of it. How do you run math against these statistics so they make sense and are actionable. This is the big ‘ah ha’ for us.”


According to Frank Cooper, “Right now, metrics are the Achilles Heel of mobile. We need industry-wide metrics and benchmarks. If you can’t measure something, you can’t put money behind it and manage it. As an industry, we take lots of comfort from metrics that don’t matter at all. It’s time to establish metrics that matter—essentially gauging the value of content delivered to the consumer. At Pepsi, we have 19 different variables in our system to gauge engagement, but we need a standard that’s consistent across the industry.”

Opportunities for Agencies

Despite a trend to growing in-house expertise, Cooper believes that there are massive opportunities for agencies now—if they move aggressively. He feels that most agencies need to establish a new set of skills for the overall digital space, including a better understanding of pace, content, making diversified bets, recognizing the nuances of different communities, and elevating the presence of digital talent within agencies. He also advocates incorporating an engineering side to all they do with data science experts.

“Talent,” he says, “has to be more collaborative across disciplines for complex problems. Scientists and engineers should sit down with creative people in a room. Not only does this create fascinating solutions, but it can work. Data scientists with copywriters and music guys with brand marketers—when all together, they’ll stretch outside of their comfort zones. Science will play aggressively in brand marketing from now on.”

Taking “Branded” Out of Entertainment

Despite building a career on direct-to-artist deals with megastars like Beyonce, co-producing short films, and brokering a long-term agreement with the NFL, Frank Cooper commented, “People don’t care about the history of your brand in and of itself. Or even the star you feature. They simply want to know ‘Are you generating something that works for my life?’ We have to deliver something meaningful to our consumers. At Pepsi, we have a rich legacy that binds to a real cultural fabric. We ask, ‘How do we compete with the best entertainment out there?’ We like to think that we simply provide entertainment. We want to take out ‘branded’ whether it refers to music, film, video or basic information.”