Pitch’s ‘Soda Sommelier’ Introduces Pepsi’s New Premium Soda Brand, 1893

By Erik Oster Comment

Pitch created a launch spot for Pepsi’s new premium soda brand, 1893, which introduces the beverages in a barrel room backdrop via a “Soda Sommelier.”

Pitch beat out other Pepsi roster agencies to create the launch ad, although it remains unclear if they will be the sole agency on the account in the future. The brand’s 1893 moniker refers to the date a Pepsi-predecessor known simply as “Brad’s Drink” was created by Pepsi-Cola founder Caleb Bradham. 1893 launches with 1893 Original Cola and 1893 Ginger Cola.

In the spot, the sommelier sits in a room surrounded by what appear to be whisky barrels. Sitting on one of the barrels are two cans of 1893, jars of ginger and cola nuts. The sommelier instructs a small group on proper tasting technique, swirling the drink, sticking his nose in the glass and saying he will take “one small sip” but finds himself guzzling the glass. The spot makes its broadcast debut this week in both English and Spanish.

The approach is obviously meant to lightheartedly poke fun at the seriousness of certain segments of the alcoholic beverage sector. Yet, 1893 derives its inspiration in part from the growing mixology trend. And those barrels in the background likely serve a dual purpose, suggesting the sodas potential in mixed drinks in addition to setting the mock-serious scene. It’s not the first Pepsi brand to introduce a more sophisticated spin-off, as the spot arrives on the heels of VaynerMedia’s “Gentleman of the Jacket” introducing Mtn Dew Black Label at the end of last month. 

“We were inspired by the mixology craze,” Chad Stubbs, vice president of marketing for the Pepsi trademark, told AdAge. “We absolutely see this as a perfect standalone beverage or a perfect compliment to cocktails. 

“We knew there was a space to introduce a cola that is part of this taste journey that consumers are wanting to go on,” he continued, adding that the 1893 brand could be used to introduce flavors beyond cola and ginger.  

Interestingly, Pepsi’s new mixology-inspired concoctions arrive at a time when a growing number of alcoholic soda offerings are emerging. The trend that started with Pabst-distributed Not Your Father’s Root Beer has expanded rapidly, with A-B InBev’s Best Damn Brewing Company series recently adding a Cherry Cola offering in addition to its Best Damn Root Beer flagship brand and Apple Ale, Samuel Adams subsidiary Coney Island Brewing offering a range of alcopop offerings beyond hard root beer, including hard ginger ale and hard orange cream ale and Not Your Father’s itself expanding with Not Your Father’s Ginger Ale. Other breweries, meanwhile, are targeting the soda space itself.