Pepsi is just out there flailing around in the marketplace. First, there was the exorbitantly expensive rebrand. Then came the print work like the ads above that try desperately to latch onto President Barack Obama’s coat tails. There have been other spots that have echoed the Obama campaign, but this one is over the top. As David Kiley wrote in Businessweek: “This is a special time in America – difficult and historic. This ad and its language comes off as a ripoff. Not an homage, but a ripoff. And it cheapens the ad and the campaign. It makes Pepsi look crass.” Totally. Brands are always trying to align their brand with a bigger movement, the cultural zeitgeist, but don’t just make a parody. Join the movement authentically or don’t bother at all.
What Pepsi really seems to be trying to do is work out their “new generation” theme for well, all generations. They want to be relevant again. Check out the spot below. It’s called “Pass” and was created by TBWA. It shows Pepsi being at all the right moments in our cultural history.
Meanwhile, Coke is revving up its marketing engines with new ads that carry the tagline, “Open Happiness,” in attempt to speak to consumers who are financially and emotionally distressed by the recession. Tall order coming from a can of pop.
According to Beverage Digest, sales of Coca-Cola fell 4.4 percent in the first nine months of 2008, while Pepsi-Cola sales fell 6.6 percent. The entire carbonated market fell 4.8 percent and the brands are going back to their original messages. For Pepsi, it’s all about the generational push. For Coke, it’s happiness, which if you recall, has been a mainstay in their marketing since the 70s. Remember those, “I’d Like To Give The World A Coke” spots? Or how about the sunshine and Coke spot that ran into the 80s? All happiness, singing and light. All that Coke factory stuff and beyond.
Sigh. So, it’s back to the Coke Pepsi war is it? Place your bets…