By Beth J. Bates, New Media Special Correspondent

The Super Bowl is right around the corner. And what’s the best part of the Super Bowl? The commercials, of course. This year, Pepsi has stunned the advertising world by skipping their beloved 30 second, $4 million dollar commercial for something that they think will be more effective – a social media campaign.

By investing $20 million dollars in a combined social media and crowdsourcing campaign, Pepsi appears to be trying to connect with its fans for the long-haul. Pepsi is hoping its “Refresh Everything” campaign will have a longer shelf life than the typical Super Bowl commercial.

The company is banking that this campaign — potentially a mixture of Facebook interactions, video and mobile apps — will extend Pepsi’s reach well beyond the Super Bowl. Companies like Doritos have already successfully married traditional commercials and social media by encouraging fans to create their own commercials and airing them during the Super Bowl.

I’m a Coke drinker myself, but even I am interested to see whether Pepsi can pull this off. And while I’ll miss Pepsi’s commercial, I look forward to enjoying what interactive goodness they have in store.

Beth J. Bates consults with Hinge on social media tool selection and strategy and helps its clients find effective ways to leverage these new mediums to meet business goals.