PepsiCo Creates What Amounts To “Smart Can” Digital Signage Network Geared To Creatives And Influencers

June 25, 2024 by Dave Haynes

Beverage giant PepsiCo has debuted something it calls a Pepsi Smart Can – a version of its soda can that has a wraparound screen and electronics instead of liquid inside.

The intent of the smart cans is to ship them out to influencers and the creative community, like those at agencies, as something of a portal to the Pepsi brand. The gadget was launched last week during the big advertising and schmooze event along the French Riviera, formally called the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

The can has a flexible screen that wraps around the exterior, as well as motion sensors and audio. It is a bit like cylindrical Bluetooth speakers, except it mirrors the form of a can.

In poking around, I was unable to determine if this thing is the same size as a can of the Pepsi you might buy at a grocery, or larger. It could be the size of floor-standing ice buckets  like the ones you see in some C-stores. Or something in between. I am guessing it is perhaps the size of a mildly over-sized soda can, if this unit is to sit on desks or office shelves.

The cans also come equipped with SIM cards, so Pepsi is effectively creating its own digital signage network by using these smart cans as end-point displays that it can push messages and creative to – wherever they’ve been sent and plugged in.

PepsiCo CMO Mark Kirkham said in an interview last week in Cannes that the intent is to send the cans out to roughly 1,000 creators and influencers, looking at this as a means of  developing one-to-one relationships.

“We get to bring our product, our brand, and our message together in an incredibly innovative way,” Kirkham said in a different interview.

I first came across this on Linkedin, in a post from PepsiCo’s Chief Design Officer (see lower in this post). One of the interesting aspects of this is that it came out of a passion project from the global design team in the brand’s Ireland offices.

The comments reveal very mixed reactions. There are:

Guessing the per unit cost of these things, in small quantities, would be in the $100s USD, as I doubt Pepsi wants to send possibly dodgy, Alibaba-level electronics to creators and influencers.

If these are bigger than I think, you can buy sub 2mm pitch LED cans out of China, but the unit costs are north of $2,000 per unit, so I seriously doubt that’s what is happening here.

I think this is clever because of the aim of putting something fun and visually interesting on the desks or office shelves of people with whom Pepsi wants to develop and maintain top-of-mind relationships. This could be a bit like a Digital Out Of Home display totem, but inside offices.

Years and years and years ago, when I first got into this industry, Ed Voltan, the VP Sales for what was then called Elevator News Network, had the clever idea of installing screens in the elevators of office towers where agencies and media buyers were located. It was expensive and the buildings didn’t always have the size of audience we wanted, but it put the product in front of just the right people every day.

This is a bit like that.

I don’t know if this is flexible OLED, or LED, as some of the posts I scanned seemed to suggest. LED, as we all know, is yet another oft-misused and wrongly attributed tech term. I doubt it is LED if the video in the post below is of the actual product, as the resolution is OLED-crisp.

I like. Send me one, Pepsi! 🙂


  1. Tony Green says:

    I saw a bunch of these scattered throughout InfoComm at random booths. Trying to figure out what they were as well, had no idea they were in fact released by Pepsi…I do have to say, Coke also have these cans in booths as well as Pepsi so thinking it is not exclusive rights to this design or technology.

    1. Dave Haynes says:

      The larger form factor stuff that i think you are referencing has indeed been around for a while. I am thinking what Pepsi is doing is not that, but wouldlove to hear from somebody who knows or see the unit in a photo next to something else, or understand actual size.

  2. Wes Dixon says:

    What fun! Now Mauro…how big is it?

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