A capsule history of a long-standing agency-client relationship. Reported by Mark Lang
PEPSI, Purchase, N.Y.
1898 Caleb Bradham, a New Bern, N.C., pharmacist, renames the carbonated soft drink he had created to serve his drug store’s fountain customers. Pepsi is born.
1902 Bradham applies to the U.S. Patent Office for a trademark for the Pepsi-Cola name.
1909 Automobile racing pioneer Barney Oldfield becomes Pepsi’s first celebrity endorser. He appears in newspaper ads describing the cola as ‘A bully drink . . . refreshing, invigorating, a fine bracer before a race.’
1934 Pepsi begins selling a 12-ounce bottle for 5 cents, the same price charged by its competitors for 6 ounces.
1941 In support of America’s war effort, Pepsi changes the colors of its bottle crowns to red, white and blue. A Pepsi canteen in Times Square, New York, operates throughout the war, enabling 1 million families to record messages for loved ones overseas.
1958 Sometimes referred to as ‘the kitchen cola,’ a consequence of its longtime positioning as a bargain brand, Pepsi now identifies itself with young, fashionable consumers with the ‘Be sociable. Have a Pepsi’ theme. A distinctive swirl appears on the bottle.
1959 Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev and U.S. Vice President Richard Nixon meet in the soon-to-be-famous ‘kitchen debate’ at an international trade fair. The meeting is conducted over a Pepsi.
1963 With the post-war baby boom emerging as a social trend, the company positions Pepsi as the brand belonging to the new generation. ‘Come alive. You’re in the Pepsi generation’ identifies the product not by its own attributes but by consumers’ lifestyles and attitudes.
1964 Diet Pepsi is introduced.
1975 Pepsi goes head-to-head versus Coke with The Pepsi Challenge, offering consumers a side-by-side taste test.
1992 Mountain Dew growth continues, supported by the antics of the Dew Crew, whose claim to fame is that they’ve ‘Been there, done that, tried that,’ except for taste of the lemony soft drink.
1994 Pepsi adds freshness information to each package sold. The company expands into sports drinks with All Sport Body Quencher.
BBDO, New York
1891 George Batten opens the Batten Co. in New York.
1919 The Barton & Durstine Co. opens and becomes the fourth-largest U.S. agency five years later, as BDO.
1928 The two agencies merge to form BBDO.
1960 Pepsi-Cola awards its account to BBDO.
1962 Phil Dusenberry (pictured, above right), later to become chairman of BBDO, New York, joins as copywriter and becomes creative supervisor on Pepsi two years later. A lifestyle influence fuels the Pepsi Generation ads.
1966 Diet Pepsi’s ‘Girl Watchers’ campaign focuses on a low-calorie message, and the song becomes a Top 40 hit. Advertising for a new product, Mountain Dew, a regional brand acquired in 1964, airs for the first time. Its theme: ‘Ya-hoo, Mountain Dew.’
1969 ‘You’ve got a lot to live. Pepsi’s got a lot to give’ contemporizes the Pepsi Generation.
1973 ‘Join the Pepsi people, feelin’ free’ attempts to capture the mood of a nation involved in massive social and political change.
1976 Allen Rosenshine, now chairman/ceo of BBDO Worldwide, pens the upbeat ‘Have a Pepsi day’ campaign, which includes ‘Puppies,’ a 30-second encounter between a small boy and even smaller dogs.
1984 Dusenberry, then creative director, spearheads the relaunch of Pepsi with ‘The choice of a new generation,’ starring Michael Jackson in a production extravaganza. Ted Sann (pictured, below left), now co-ceo of BBDO, New York, writes the ‘Archeology’ spot, a Cannes Grand Prix winner.
1985 A star-studded parade, featuring Lionel Richie, Gloria Estefan, Joe Montana, Dan Marino, Tina Turner, Billy Crystal, Teri Garr and Geraldine Ferraro, carries Diet Pepsi’s ‘New generation’ forward.
1986 Michael Patti, now vice chairman of BBDO, New York, authors ‘Apartment 10G,’ featuring Michael J. Fox, and follows up with a series of blockbuster-style ads.
1988 Michael Jackson’s four-part episodic spots called ‘Chase’ rate among the most-watched commercials in TV history.
1991 Music legend Ray Charles lends his talents to Diet Pepsi’s ‘You got the right one, baby’ campaign, created by Al Merrin, now BBDO, New York, vice chairman. ‘Uh-Huh’ (and the Uh-Huh Girls) are added soon after.
1992 The ‘Be young, have fun, drink Pepsi’ campaign, starring Shaquille O’Neal, appears.
1997 The ‘Generation Next’ theme ties in with the theatrical release of the Stars Wars trilogy.
Copyright ASM Communications, Inc. (1997) ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Get Adweek's Brand Marketing Daily Newsletter in your Inbox
Today's highs and lows of creativity