Multi-screen marketing: How Pepsi reached Vietnamese millennials during Tết

August 2018
  • Tết, Vietnam's Lunar New Year, is a hyper competitive time for brands in Vietnam, and Pepsi wanted to lead the soft drink battle in the country.
  • With the majority of Vietnam’s population under 35, Pepsi based its Tết 2018 campaign strategy on millennial consumers.
  • The soda brand complemented its TV spot with YouTube creatives; after, research firm Kantar Millward Brown dove in to find out which ads had the most cost-efficient influence on key brand metrics.
  • Digital ads were the most effective, with YouTube proving to be a valuable complement to its TV ads when it came to reaching millennial audiences.

Leading up to Tết 2018, Pepsi’s marketing team faced an uphill battle: the season’s highly competitive marketing space as every advertiser vies for the consumers’ limited attention. And for good reason: A recent study showed that over 90% of surveyed participants said that Tết-related campaigns influence their affinity towards a brand, and over 85% associate Tết advertisements with their purchase decisions.1

Seeing as more than half of Vietnam’s population is younger than 35, Pepsi’s marketing team decided to connect with digitally savvy millennials by flipping traditional Tết advertising—which tends to be sappy and emotional—on its head. But along with telling a more lighthearted and relatable story, the brand knew it was just as important to invest in the right channels to make sure the story reached people.

Recognizing an opportunity to harvest fresh lessons and best practices for the future, Pepsi’s marketing team realized it needed to approach the 2018 campaign with an experimental mindset. That’s why the brand brought in its trusted analytics partner, Kantar Millward Brown, to help answer a few questions at the end of the campaign:

1) How does each channel influence key brand metrics?
2) Which channels had the most cost-efficient influence?
3) How can future campaigns be optimized?

Pepsi learned that not only was the campaign a brand-building success, but Kantar’s study also provided valuable inspiration and insights on how to shape future digital campaigns.

Putting a digital-era twist on Tết

Compared to previous generations, millennials don’t feel the same nostalgia about Tết. They’ve grown up with a flourishing economy and widespread access to internet, and as a result they’re much more immersed in and engaged with the digital world. Long story short, traditional family gatherings are deemed boring (sorry, nội ơi) to millennials. But in the eyes of their parents and grandparents, youngsters are missing out on the true meaning of Tết—gathering with loved ones—because they’re trapped in a digital “bubble.”

Based on that insight, Pepsi took a lighthearted approach to tell millennials that Tết’s true meaning remains about family and connection, but whether the holiday is exciting is ultimately up to them. If they think Tết is bland (nhạt) because it “lacks salt” (“thiếu muối,” a popular phrase in Vietnam), they should just “add salt” (“thêm muối đi”).

Compared to past campaigns, the brand tried investing more heavily in YouTube to tap into the surge in watch time in Vietnam during Tết, and to see how much it could boost the brand’s reach beyond TV. Pepsi’s YouTube creative included a 30-second spot that was also featured on TV, three custom Mastheads, and a five-minute viral video featuring famous actress Ngọc Giàu.

Pepsi’s YouTube creative revolved around the idea that families can burst the digital bubble, reconnect with each other, and enjoy the true spirit of Tết.

Breaking down each channel’s impact on brand metrics

To study each channel’s performance, Kantar Millward Brown conducted a CrossMedia study of 1,000 carbonated soft drink consumers, aged 15–45, in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Ultimately, the goal was to figure out where Pepsi’s ads were most effective—and efficient—based on consumers’ self-reported media consumption habits.

Based on the results, Pepsi could see how effective its digital ads—especially on YouTube—were in reaching younger consumers.

Digital helped Pepsi reach a wider millennial audience

  • 15–24

  • 25–45

The brand also saw how YouTube worked as a valuable complement to TV, helping drive 13% incremental reach to light TV viewers (watch less than nine hours per week).

Pepsi's YouTube campaign boosted its reach beyond TV


Pepsi’s YouTube-specific set of creative helped drive 34% of the campaign’s impact on awareness, 20% of its impact on association with Tết, and 13% of its impact on purchase motivation. And considering their individual cost for boosting brand metrics, YouTube and other digital ads were by far the most efficient.

Pepsi's YouTube creative lifted key brand metrics

  • Baseline

  • Media uplift

Most notable to Pepsi was the fact that once Tết 2018 concluded, the brand significantly improved its top-of-mind awareness among Vietnamese consumers compared to 2017, edging them much closer to the top position in the soda war.

Lessons learned

Pepsi's marketing team chalked up the success of its Tết campaign to three crucial factors:

1) Tap into insights that make consumers tick.
When attention is at a premium, reaching your audience comes down to taking risks. By exploring a new insight—like the fading interest in traditional Tết celebrations among millennials—Pepsi was able to delight a younger audience with an entirely new, relatable story.

2) Complement traditional touchpoints with digital.
You know what reaches more people than just TV or YouTube alone? According to the research, using YouTube and TV in tandem does the trick. Pepsi used YouTube to both showcase its TV spot and take its storytelling even further with long-form creative that reinforced its key message.

3) Tell a consistent story across touchpoints.
With online and offline worlds getting more muddled every day, it’s important not to think about channels in siloes. Ads at each touchpoint should offer something new to grab attention while carrying a common thread that tells a consistent story, such as Pepsi’s digital “bubble” imagery and salty message.


Kantar Millward Brown (KMB) conducted a CrossMedia™ study of 1,000 carbonated soft drink consumers, aged 15–45, in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. The study was based on detailed surveys that established media habits and Pepsi brand health among the target audience. KMB leveraged its proprietary "probabilistic model" to establish how each of the 1000 respondents were exposed to Pepsi’s campaign media. Using surveys and media post-buy reports to establish the exposures (reach and frequency), KMB then created multi-regression models to isolate the impact that each media platform generated on the brand/campaign objectives. KMB also surveyed a minimum of 100 respondents each week to better understand the diminishing returns on each media channel over time.

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