Gianmauro Vella, PepsiCo Head of Design APAC & AMESA, explains the design strategy behind the soft drinks company's limited-edition cans.

Effective packaging

This article is part of a series of articles from the WARC Guide to effective packaging.

At PepsiCo, we believe that great design is all about people and it was important for us to recognise the heroic efforts of everyone on the frontline during COVID-19. Our "Everyday Heroes" campaign saluted the brave people fighting the pandemic by depicting four heroes – a medical worker, a takeaway delivery man, a volunteer and a frontline worker.

Our vision is to ‘Be the Global Leader in Convenient Foods and Beverages by Winning with Purpose’. One of the ways in which we’re doing this is by investing in our capabilities – like Global Design – to drive transformation and accelerate growth. Over the last 10 years, we’ve worked to make design an integral part of the innovation process for our brands, influencing product, packaging and experience.

Design unlocks new opportunities for our business – from licensing and content, to in-store activation and new product and experience development. Today, we have 12 Design Hubs around the world in markets including NYC, London, Shanghai, Sao Paulo, Mexico City, New Delhi, Moscow and the brand new Bangkok office, giving us the ability to be more embedded with cross-functional teams and drive design-led thinking across PepsiCo. This structure puts resources closer to the markets for greater agility.

Design-driven companies understand that “consumer-centricity” is all about design; we work closely with our Insights and R&D functions to take data and translate it into proactive, personal solutions – both emotional and functional – for the people who love our products.

At PepsiCo China, we're always looking for ways to take timely actions to show our support to local communities. For example, the limited edition, collectable Pepsi cans featuring the heroes from the frontline of COVID-19 that we launched in May 2020. We joined hands with People's Daily New Media to launch the "everyday heroes" campaign, to show our deep respect for everyone on the frontline. Design in PepsiCo is all about people, and designing these limited edition cans was just one of the multiple ways we connect with them.

With "everyday heroes" we wanted to create something iconic, collectable, memorable and most of all desirable. We knew that this was different from our other collaborations with Shanghai Disney Resort, fashion designers and Shanghai Fashion Week, it was unique so we needed to create something different. In order to celebrate our heroes, they had to be immediately recognisable. That's why we decided to depict the heroes on the designs for who they are, doing what they're passionate about and celebrating them in the style of newspaper typesetting.

Although it's too early to know the impact on sales, an animation video featuring the everyday heroes was viewed by 13.7 million on the WeChat platform and as a viral topic on social media, we had 357 million hashtag readings.

Design is a function that supports the business by generating stories for our consumers across multiple touchpoints – packaging, experience, branding, innovation, fashion and more and these limited-edition cans are just one of these stories.


One of PepsiCo's key differentiators from competition is the contribution that our in-house design team bring to every consumer touchpoint, impacting both brand equity and sales performance of our brands across the entire portfolio. We measure design effectiveness not simply in terms of the financial ROI of a single project, but the long-term impact on the overall brand value, sales and perception. As we look at 2020 and the current environment, design will continue to significantly transform our business and unlock new opportunities.