UPTOWN Professional Sep 13, 2011

Elite Executive: Frank Cooper III

Elite Executive: Frank Cooper IIIWith a background in music, entertainment and technology, Frank Cooper III would never have guessed that he’d become a modern-day icon in the marketing world.

Cooper worked at America Online, Def Jam and Motown before becoming PepsiCo’s chief consumer engagement officer. He led Pepsi from a dependency on traditional forms of advertising, like the 30-second television spot, to utilizing the Internet and other new technologies. Cooper is credited with successfully ushering the soft-drink giant into the cutting-edge world of social media.

Central to his plan has been prioritizing consumer engagement, with initiatives such as the DEWmocracy Internet campaign, in which the public helped to choose the new flavors of Mountain Dew. The company is also funneling millions of dollars into social and community projects with its Pepsi Refresh Project. Video documentaries, animated series and television specials have all been used to push the brand.

“It is a dramatic shift,” says Cooper, who gets his ideas by talking to people from all walks of life—a professor one day, a graffiti artist the next. “We are looking at how we can maintain and deepen our relationship with consumers.” But he insists that the new ideas shouldn’t be used to dismiss what has been successful in the past. “You have to take the essentials and add things to make them better,” he says. “TV ads still work, but aren’t sufficient enough to build deep relationships with consumers.”

— ANDREA WALKER