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Changemakers: Jane Wakely on how sustainability at PepsiCo is becoming a force for growth and good

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Jane Wakely, Chief Consumer and Marketing Officer at PepsiCo
Jane Wakely, Chief Consumer and Marketing Officer at PepsiCo   -   Copyright  Photo provided by speaker to Cannes Lions
By Annabel Murphy  & Oleksandra Vakulina

Food and beverage behemoth PepsiCo is setting some ambitious sustainability goals with an aim to have 100 per cent recyclable, reusable, compostable and biodegradable packaging by 2025, and achieve net-zero emissions by 2040.

The company, which reaches over one billion consumers across the world every day, is also exploring ways to grow the impact of its innovative brands, SodaStream and Gatorade whilst encouraging positive behaviour change amongst consumers, according to its Chief Consumer and Marketing Officer, Jane Wakely.

Speaking at the 2022 Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, Wakely said that branding is now more about “story doing, not storytelling” - a message repeated by some of the biggest brands and agencies at this year’s event.

The “story doing” at PepsiCo is highlighted in “PepsiCo Positive,” described as an “end-to-end transformation” that lays out the company’s 2030 goals relating to water usage, sustainable packaging and plant-based product growth.

“We can't muck around here, we've got to deliver. We've got to keep that climate temperature rise to a maximum of 1.5. So for me, it's having big, very audacious goals on both growth and impact,” Wakely told Euronews Next.

Doubling down on innovative products

The company is looking at the success of existing products such as the SodaStream Professional which includes a water dispenser, reusable bottles and a smartphone app that tracks data, shares insights and encourages reuse of plastic bottles.

“You can personalise your beverage experience, but it also nudges you and involves you in almost rewarding yourself for not using single plastics - so it monitors how many bottles you saved. It nudges you and it encourages you to use the permanent water bottle,” she said.

The SodaStream product is predicted to have avoided the use of more than 200 billion plastic bottles by 2030 and this sort of impact is what excites Wakely and her team.

“I think as marketeers, innovators as designers, we're trying to reimagine growth for the future, reimagine a more sustainable way of not only growing, but driving impact,” she said.

Another innovation Wakely sees as a potential game changer in the beverage industry is the use of powders and tablet forms which are already available in the Gatorade sports drink brand.

“Gatorade has begun to seriously scale up their powders and tablets business, which reimagines the way consumers will consume beverages in the future,” Wakely added.

Driving consumer behaviour change

In addition to making more sustainable products, PepsiCo is working to encourage recycling with a campaign, Trash Talk, which features NRL stars explaining the difference between recyclable and non recyclable products.

“We're using the power and the cultural impact of our brands to help educate consumers, to create consumer movements, to recycle. It's fantastic because it uses our sports property and our great sports ambassadors to make recycling cool,” she said.

These initiatives form part of PepsiCo’s impact mission to ensure long term environmental and business sustainability for both the company and for future generations.

“No one anymore should be advertising a cause or a purpose that you don't have a serious ecosystem of action behind. I think gone are those days,” Wakely said.

“It's not cool, it's not on and you'll get found out. How you discover that sweet spot is deep human understanding and deep understanding of your brand”.

  • For more on this story, watch an edited version of the full interview in the media player for comments on female leadership and retaining talent in the creative industry.
  • The Changemakers series in partnership with Cannes Lions Live and Euronews Next is a one-to-one interview series with female leaders who are rethinking their roles and creating a better future for their industry.To watch the entire video, visit the Cannes Lions website.