BEIJING: Pepsi, the US soft drinks giant, is increasingly looking to co-creation as it seeks to connect with young people in China, and has developed a wide range of initiatives over the last few years in an attempt to achieve this goal.

In 2006, the company launched its first Creative Challenge in the world's most populous nation, asking consumers to write scripts for a TV ad featuring the actor and pop star, Jay Chou.

After selecting 15 submissions, it allowed web users to choose their favourite, resulting in some 5 million votes being delivered, and the writer of the winning storyboard taking a prize of 100,000 yuan ($14,631; €10,014; £9,201).

Similarly, in 2007, it pursued a second such scheme, this time giving netizens the chance to upload their photos onto the web, with the most popular images being added to cans of its cola brand.

This platform was intended to target what was termed "Generation Wow" – that is, 12–24 year olds – and was supported both via traditional and digital media.

It received some 2.5 million entries, with just 20 people ultimately featuring on its packaging, after 140 million votes were cast on the web and mobile phones.

As part of this process, Pepsi forged alliances with companies like China Merchants Bank and Kappa, the apparel brand, which produced associated products ranging from credit cards to fashion accessories.

In 2008, the owner of Gatorade and Mountain Dew built an online community based around the Beijing Olympics, called Go China.

This service recorded more than 120 million visitors, with the main form of activity among this group being to submit patriotic images and slogans.

Similarly, the company recently forged alliances with TaoTao, a microblogging website, QQ, the instant messaging service, and QZone, the social network, to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Communist rule.

It's latest Creative Challenge asked visitors to post messages, of 60 characters in length, beginning with the expression "China wishes you…", to celebrate National Day.

Ten of the top posts will go on to feature in a TV spot next year, and the company also developed a "Creativity Map" which showed those areas of the country that had submitted the most suggestions.

Chris Tung, vp of Pepsi brand marketing, Greater China, said “Pepsi is always looking to raise the bar in terms of consumer engagement.” 

"Back in 2006, we realized that young Chinese are increasingly looking to the online space to connect with brands."

"Our purpose in holding this massive online ritual of Creative Challenges every year is to position Pepsi as a brand that continually seeks innovative ways to engage Chinese youth's desire for creative expression."

Pepsi's other recent initiatives in the fast-growing economy have included launching a record label, QMusic, and using the music of some of the artists represented in its ads.

Moreover, it developed a Battle of the Bands talent show on television, allowing viewers to pick one act that should be awarded a recording contract.

Data sourced from AdAge, MediaPost, Brand E-biz; additional content by Warc staff