Transforming Marketing Via Co-Creation and Co-Branding at PepsiCo

Marissa Solis, Vice President, Marketing and Business Development, PepsiCo, discussed the importance of co-creation and co-branding partnerships to enhance product ideas and marketing messages in her keynote address to Argyle's CMO membership at the 2016 Chief Marketing Officer Leadership Forum in Dallas on Dec. 8. In her presentation, "Transforming Marketing Via Co-Creation and Co-Branding," Solis described how marketers can leverage co-creation and co-branding partnerships to develop a new set of breakthrough "never-been-done-before" ideas.

According to Solis, co-creation and co-branding frequently serve the needs of businesses worldwide. Together, co-creation and co-branding enable business partners to promote various products and services to large groups of consumers.

Although co-creation and co-branding are valuable, they continue to evolve. As new mobile and digital technologies have become available over the past few years, many business leaders are rethinking the way that they embrace co-creation and co-branding.

Business leaders also need to consider how they evaluate the benefits of co-creation and co-branding both now and in the future. If business leaders understand the true value of co-creation and co-branding, they may be able to identify and address growth opportunities faster than ever before.

"Traditionally, with co-branding, companies come together to reach new partners, get into new channels or increase their sales or profits," Solis noted. "To me, successful co-branding involves completely going beyond a successful financial ROI and creating great new experiences. It's all about generating emotional energy."

For PepsiCo, co-creation and co-branding play key roles in the business' marketing efforts. Co-creation and co-branding enable the company to showcase its products in innovative ways. Furthermore, co-creation and co-branding allow PepsiCo to deliver unique, engaging experiences, which has enabled the business to differentiate itself from rivals.

"Every time we create something new, it has to be a phenomenon," Solis stated. "How can we create a one-of-a-kind offering, something that hasn't been done before? … We want to create something completely new and different."

How a business approaches co-creation and co-branding is important.

"You have to create something that is going to generate buzz. Sometimes it's good buzz or bad buzz, but it's going to bring in people."

For example, Solis noted a business cannot rely solely on data as it explores co-creation and co-branding opportunities. Customer data can offer valuable insights, but business leaders also must be able to identify customer behaviors and trends to optimize the value of co-creation and co-branding opportunities.

"It really is beyond the focus groups and beyond what the data tells us. It really is all about trends," Solis said. "Observation is really important, and listening is really important."

Today, self-expression remains paramount for consumers, and this trend appears likely to continue into the foreseeable future.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social networks empower consumers to express their thoughts and feelings about a brand from any location, at any time. If a company embraces co-creation and co-branding, it may be able to foster long-lasting partnerships with consumers and extend its global reach simultaneously.

At PepsiCo, giving consumers the ability to share their thoughts and feelings about food products is essential.

"How can we create a one-of-a-kind offering, something that hasn't been done before? … We want to create something completely new and different."

PepsiCo explores co-creation and co-branding opportunities that make it simple for consumers to use social media to share product images, videos and feedback quickly and effortlessly. By doing so, PepsiCo is able to provide unprecedented experiences that help the business differentiate its offerings from competitors'.

"We know people want to pay more for more differentiated offerings," Solis pointed out. "The value equation for us and for future generations is changing. Experience is key."

PepsiCo understands that its products merely extend "beyond the bag" – something that has enabled the company to embark on successful co-creation and co-branding campaigns.

"We're collaborating a lot to take our brands 'beyond the bag' and create a lot of new experiences with our partners," Solis said. "We saw our products … as canvases for people to create."

Moreover, business leaders must remain "unapologetic" for their co-creation and co-branding efforts, according to Solis.

Business leaders may commit substantial time and resources to develop co-creation and co-branding partnerships. But despite their best efforts, these partnerships may fail.

If a co-creation or co-branding partnership fails, business leaders can learn from their mistakes. Plus, even a failed opportunity can still help a business generate buzz among consumers.

"You have to create something that is going to generate buzz," Solis pointed out. "Sometimes it's good buzz or bad buzz, but it's going to bring in people."

Co-creation and co-branding partnerships may help a business enter new business segments as well.

For instance, Solis pointed out PepsiCo worked with Taco Bell to develop the Doritos Locos Taco. The partnership enabled PepsiCo to move into a new business sector and has proven to be a major boon for the company.

"[The Doritos Locos Taco] allowed us to get out of the salty snacks space and into a whole new category," Solis said. "We're also able to bring our consumers into that new category."


Marissa Solis has 20 years of marketing management, communications and sales experience in both the U.S. and Latin American markets. In her current role, Marissa is leading marketing, innovation, and business development for existing food service and other new non-retail channels, working to build a $2Billion business by 2020. Marissa is on the Board of Directors for VolunteerNow a Non-Profit that serves as the hub of volunteerism in North Texas. She is currently the Executive Sponsor for PepsiCo’s Adelante Employee Resource Group and an Advisor to the Women of Color Alliance.

A graduate of Georgetown University with a B.S. in International Economics and the University of Texas at Austin with an M.B.A. and M.A. in Public Policy, she began her career in brand management at Procter & Gamble Latin America in San Juan, Puerto Rico where she led marketing for brands like Ariel, Downy, and Pampers for the U.S. Hispanic Market and Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Central America.

Marissa spent a few years at Deloitte Consulting managing change leadership and communication consulting for Public Sector clients and also contributed to the communication strategies of key political campaigns in Texas and Mexico before returning to marketing at Frito Lay North America in 2003. During her tenure at FLNA, she has led numerous brand initiatives including the Tostitos Family Moments TV campaign, the launch of Lay’s with Sunflower Oil, Multigrain Tostitos, and Doritos Late Night. Marissa also led shopper marketing for key PepsiCo customers like Walmart, Target, Costco, Dollar General, Walgreen’s, and 7-11. Most recently, Marissa led FLNA sales for the Dollar Channel delivering double-digit growth for 2 years.

Marissa is a member of the Network of Executive Women and has a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. She resides in Mckinney, Texas with her husband Juan and 11-year-old daughter Gabriela.