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• The National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) is out with its monthly consumer confidence survey, saying that "rising gas prices are taking a toll on consumer optimism about the economy, with optimism falling to its lowest level since August 2014 ... Consumer optimism fell from 54% to 44%, the largest decrease in optimism in more than two years."

According to the survey, "In the past month, gas prices rose 29 cents per gallon as refineries have begun the transition to produce the costlier summer-blend fuels that are required in many markets across the country ... Consumers expect the upward trajectory of gas prices to continue, as three in four (73%) believe gas prices will be higher in 30 days than they are today — a noteworthy increase from 58% in February."

NACS says that "weather may also play a role in consumer optimism," since it "was the lowest in the Northeast (37%), which has been battered by storms and cold weather this past month."

Advertising Age reports that "the Pepsi Challenge is back, with a twist ... Pepsi has signed a crowd of celebrities, including Usher, Serena Williams and Usain Bolt, to recruit consumers to participate in a series of challenges meant for the social media generation. The yearlong promotion begins on Wednesday."

The story explains: "Every month, Pepsi 'ambassadors' will use social media to issue a new challenge — many of which blend social responsibility with popular culture — that encourages consumers to 'do something different.' Later this month, for instance, the fashion designer Nicola Formichetti will present the first challenge from Hong Kong to bring light to poor communities across the globe using plastic Pepsi bottles filled with water and bleach to refract sunlight."

The original Pepsi Challenge, four decades ago, was a taste test in which Pepsi went up against Coke.
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