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The PepsiCo Definition of Innovation: Insights from Cannes



Skylar Spencer

Vistar had the pleasure of attending the 2022 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in Cannes, France. The one-of-a-kind event brings together the best and brightest brand marketers, agencies, communicators and more to network, learn and celebrate the work that’s pushing boundaries and disrupting the creative industry for the better.

As part of the week’s events, Lucy Markowitz, SVP of U.S. Sales at Vistar, was joined by industry expert Kate Brady, Global Head of Media Innovation & Partnership Development at PepsiCo, for a panel discussion on how an established brand and Vistar partner like PepsiCo has made innovation a cornerstone of their marketing principles. 

From data-driven brand strategies to always searching for what’s “next,” Brady shared an inside look into PepsiCo’s innovative mindset and consumer-first mentality that propelled the company to the challenger brand status it holds today. In case you missed it, we’re sharing some of our key takeaways from the panel:


A data-driven approach is crucial to maintaining a consumer-centric business strategy.

It’s no secret that data is the name of the game and should be at the forefront of all innovative marketing strategies, media planning and budget allocation conversations. Brady shared how one of PepsiCo’s top priorities is to grow their proprietary data sets, which they dub “Consumer DNA” or CDNA. This data has defined the perfect recipe of 1st party, 2nd party and 3rd party pulling in shopping behaviors and lifestyle attributes for over 110 million households globally. “The core of what we do at PepsiCo is being consumer-centric” Brady explained, CDNA data has given Pepsi an edge over other consumer brands ensuring they are activating media to have the most valuable conversations possible with the right consumer.

“We use the CDNA audience data set to inform how we go to market, what media we buy, and what audience we target with our [DOOH] buys with Vistar because we see it drives effectiveness in the space,” Brady shared. 

Lucy Markowitz noted what really brought PepsiCo and Vistar together was the shared vision about not only understanding consumer purchase behavior, but also consumer lifestyle habits, interests, demographics and more. One of Vistar’s core offerings allows brands to reach consumers at scale via DOOH during specific touch points throughout their day, personalizing the experience to ensure the creative message is resonating.


True innovators look beyond their core business for inspiration on how to optimize and scale operations.

During the panel, Brady spoke passionately about her work within the PepsiCo Labs program, which has been a key element of the brand’s approach towards infusing innovation into all things Pepsi. PepsiCo Labs is the brand’s tech venture arm aimed at partnering with the startup community to drive business needs and learn about new emerging technology. The selection process includes Brady and other business leaders in tech hubs around the globe to pinpoint the best companies to drive value back to PepsiCo. “Through our Global Innovation Council, we work to understand what the global challenges are across the business and markets in which we operate, and then collaborate with [internal PepsiCo] partners all over the world to identify startups we can test [with],” Brady highlighted.

“Each year, we address common focus areas across our businesses, whether personalization at scale, gaming and sports marketing, competitive intelligence and performance marketing, and this year, all things Web3, NFTs, crypto and more. We’ve met with over 1,000 startups since we started and have scaled about 40% of the solutions we’ve piloted,” she elaborated.

As Web3 shifts into focus for the PepsiCo Lab’s program, Brady has spent her time not only evaluating partners that can help Pepsi define their Web3 strategy but also in educating internal teams on their definition of Web3 and how they move into the space.   Brady is most excited right now on how PepsiCo can create 1:1 experiences with this new technology, optimizing it through media channels like DOOH.


Every campaign should blend the best of art and science.

As Brady revealed, “the ethos of our team is truly identifying what’s new, next and the best way for us to connect with our customers. How do we find those pivots, new platforms and new partnerships to ultimately be more effective, efficient and optimal? It’s about finding the best way to build your brand.”

Brady & Markowitz discussed this same need to have innovation across all areas, balancing incredible creative with technology & data-driven strategies. “Everything we do is blending the data plus that artistic aspect, and [it’s critical to have] both the hearts and science components.”

Interested in more Cannes Lions 2022 insights from the Vistar team? See here for some takeaways from the week.

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