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Pepsi’s Smart Can That's Not a Can (But Makes You Think)

Pepsi isn't just dispensing sugary refreshments; it's getting into exclusive experiences, dynamic visuals, and interactive storytelling with the Pepsi Smart Can, an innovative concept that has the tech and marketing worlds buzzing.

"This innovation showcases how design and marketing can collaborate to unlock new meaningful brand opportunities and brings to life our new visual identity and messages in an ever-changing digital landscape," remarked PepsiCo Senior Vice President and Chief Design Officer Mauro Porcini in an interview with Fast Company.

While the Pepsi Smart might seem like a wild publicity stunt, there's more to the story than meets the eye.

Unveiled at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, the Smart Can isn't your average beverage container. A high-definition, flexible screen replaces the traditional design, and movement sensors lurk beneath the surface.

Interesting, right?

But the purpose? That's where things get interesting (and a tad confusing). Let us take a sneak peek into Pepsi's strategic rollout and what it might mean for the future.

Limited Release: Building Hype, Not Sales (Yet)

Gone are the days of lining up at your local store for a Smart Can. Pepsi is currently playing it close to the vest, distributing its smart cans to a chosen few – early adopters, creatives, and influencers in the worlds of sports, gaming, and music. This targeted approach serves two purposes:

  1. Building Buzz: Your favourite gamer or athlete taking off exclusive content on a Pepsi Smart Can. Pepsi is banking on this influencer effect to generate excitement and get people talking (like we are right now!).

  2. Gathering Feedback: By putting the Smart Can in the hands of tastemakers, Pepsi gains valuable insights into user experience, content preferences, and the overall effectiveness of the concept. This is worthwhile before a wider release, allowing them to refine the product based on real-world feedback.

Exclusive Access: A Glimpse into the Future of Brand Engagement?

Pepsi promises future iterations of the Smart Can to offer exclusive content and experiences. This Smart Can alone help you access codes for VIP events, limited edition merchandise, or even personalized messages from your favourite star. It's rather a trailer into a future where brands and consumers connect on a deeper level.

Beyond the Golds and Glitters

The belief at Pepsi is to "boldly experiment" with technology. The Smart Can isn't some fancy gadget; it could test personalization at scale. Envision a world where your Pepsi can niche down the content to your interests: sports highlights to get the athlete in you ready to roll, and concert footage to get the music lover moving and grooving. The possibilities are truly endless.

A CAN-vas for Curiosity

Mauro Porcini, Pepsi's SVP & Chief Design Officer, describes the Smart Can as a “CAN-vas for creativity.” It is a gateway to experiences curated for a ‘thirsty for more’ generation. Isn’t it eyesome when you can get exclusive concert tickets materializing on the screen, or a personalized invitation to a hidden Pepsi diner? The possibilities seem endless, fueled by the 15% free time Pepsi grants its design team to explore offbeat ideas.

But Do We Need Another Screen?

The cynics are quick to point out – don't we have enough screens bombarding us daily? Does the world crave a glorified digital lava lamp disguised as a Pepsi can? Valid concerns. The Smart Can, in its current form, doesn't hold any Pepsi. It's a dedicated media device, though a very cool-looking one.

A Further Push for Innovation

Despite the unanswered questions, the Pepsi Smart Can is a spark of innovation. It pushes boundaries, challenges our perception of a traditional brand, and hints at a future where physical and digital experiences meet. Whether it's a marketing masterstroke or a quirky experiment, the Smart Can is a conversation starter.

Will the Smart Can Become a Household Item?

Only time will tell. 

But one thing's for sure – Pepsi has thrown a curveball, and the tech and marketing spheres are eagerly watching how it plays out. Perhaps the Smart Can isn't the end product, but a stepping stone on the path to even more creative brand engagement. 

As for us consumers, we get to witness the evolution unfold, one innovative sip. Or should we say screen at a time?

Whether it becomes a household item or remains a collector's curiosity, the Smart Can has sparked a conversation and pushed the boundaries of brand interaction. And in today's competitive landscape, that's a win in itself. So, while you might not be sipping from a Smart Can anytime soon, keep an eye out – it might be how we are going to connect with our favourite brands.

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