The Shorty Awards honor the best of social media and digital. View this season's finalists!
From the 6th Annual Shorty Awards

Pepsi Does the Harlem Shake

Finalist in Real-Time Response

About this entry

As the key mechanism of helping Pepsi walk the walk of its global Live for Now campaign, we are always on the lookout for ways to engage with the iconic brand’s youth target audience every day. This audience is hyper-focused on what is cool, interesting, fun and viral now. Right now. To create the relevance needed to be part of this target’s zeitgeist, together with Pepsi we publish original, branded micro content that is optimized for sharing among this audience. To do it, we use a finely-tuned stack of analytics tools that help us identify what is important to this audience at any given moment. Trends are predicted and analyzed and the best ones – those that pass the “is it really cool and is it really Pepsi" sniff test – get fed into our creative newsroom. This dedicated group – focused on generating social feed-optimized content in real-time – uses this information to concept and produce short form content that we know will be loved and shared by Pepsi’s target. Such was the case with the Harlem Shake. This process identified this meme-in-the-making shortly after the original Harlem Shake video started blowing up on YouTube. Having originated among college students and containing just the right mixture of internet weird and awesome, we determined this was a perfect opportunity for Pepsi to engage with their target. Within 24 hours we shot, produced, ran approvals and published what was credited as the first brand Harlem Shake video – soon enough to be part of the viral groundswell, not a lame follower of it. This is a real time publishing success story for Pepsi. Within minutes of being published, Digiday, Mashable and Business Insider published articles about it, sparking viewership. It then crossed into mainstream media, showing up on Time, WSJ, Forbes and Huffington Post. The video earned over 300,000 views in the first day. The reach was even more incredible: the earned media resulted in nearly 9 Million impressions in three days. All with a $0 media spend. User comments were overwhelmingly positive ranging from “this should be on TV" to “I Love Pepsi" and everything in between – an achievement on YouTube. The video even sparked copycats from other soft drink brands and a challenge from a competitor (which we declined – both our intuition and analytics told us the meme was dying, and furthering it would have been, well, lame). Pepsi also enjoyed remarkably high ROI on this execution: each view cost the client less than a cent: roughly $0.004. Each engagement – each like, share, comment and retweet – cost even less. But most of all, the brand enjoyed an unequivocal moment of helping to bring a major internet meme to its peak fervor, making good on its battle cry to Live for Now.


Entrant Company / Organization Name

Deep Focus


Entry Credits