Breaking Into the Blue

Stern College Student Named Finalist in Nationwide PepsiCo Marketing Competition

Scrolling through LinkedIn one day, Stern College for Women student Michal Kupchik was intrigued by an ad challenging viewers to submit an entry to PepsiCo’s “Meeting of the Minds” competition: “Come up with an innovative way to link a PepsiCo brand with an up-and-coming musician. How would you creatively use, or misuse, technology and short-form video to achieve your goals?”

Stern College senior Michal Kupchik is one of nine finalists in PepsiCo’s “Meeting of the Minds” competition.
Stern College senior Michal Kupchik is one of nine finalists in PepsiCo’s “Meeting of the Minds” competition.

Kupchik, a senior from West Hempstead, New York, majoring in public relations, knew exactly what she had to do. Her mind already whirling with campaign options, she pored over Pepsi’s social media pages and website, familiarizing herself with the brand’s history and mission. Inspired by a recent Pepsi campaign, “Out of the Blue,” Kupchik came up with a spinoff: “Break Into the Blue.” With the tagline “Music Experiences, Made Real by You,” Kupchik’s campaign focuses on uniting Pepsi with raw, undiscovered musical talent by calling for musicians to upload an original song to YouTube that shows why they deserve a big break. After the country votes on the top three most-watched videos, the winner and their music would be featured in a Pepsi ad.

“Pepsi’s rich music heritage has always been about the famous musician, but today, the world is just as interested in the dreamer as they are in the superstar,” said Kupchik. “In fact, according to the recent research of Next Big Sound, over 90 percent of artists today are considered undiscovered. I believe that Pepsi will be very successful if they center their focus on the undiscovered musician by giving them a once in a lifetime chance at their big break and having their music heard by the world.”

Kupchik credits numerous public relations courses with Deborah Brown, adjunct instructor in Stern College’s English department, for helping her hone her media instincts. “In her classes I gained a real inside look at the field and had the opportunity to pitch campaigns that I developed along with my peers to marketing professionals from brands like Skinceuticals and Colgate,” she said. “Professor Brown has served as a mentor to me outside the classroom as well, taking her own personal time to answer any questions I have about the field.”

How did Kupchik know she could beat out thousands of other contestants to become a finalist? She didn’t—but she’s never been daunted by the odds before. Kupchik won a university-wide Chanukah film competition during her first semester on campus, entered an Ellen DeGeneres talent competition, and has been featured as an audience contestant on “Who Wants to be a Millionaire.”

“Most people look at these contests and automatically assume that they don’t stand a chance,” Kupchik said. “I have learned that with passion and determination, winning these contests really is plausible. This contest in particular appealed to me, as it fused my passions for PR, short-form videos and social media, as well as the fact that the grand prize of the contest is an internship at PepsiCo—a dream position for a graduating senior like myself.”

You can help Kupchik win by voting for her pitch here.