Situation

The Cola Wars.

Coke and Pepsi were fighting for share of the grocery aisles and a place in the hearts of consumers.  Both brands were doing very similar advertising, but Coke was outspending Pepsi by more than 2:1, giving them an edge.

Challenge

How do you carve out a place in the hearts and minds of consumers and build a brand with a loyal following while being outspent and competing against “America”, which was Coke?

Solution

First, Pepsi had to look at who their target really was. With a more limited budget than Coke, Pepsi did not have the luxury of directing its advertising dollars to a broad mass media audience.

A new strategy was developed to try and capture the younger target using a very different “voice” and executional elements.  Building on the “Pepsi Generation” moniker of old and wins in blind taste tests, a new campaign was written, “The Choice of a New Generation.”

The bulk of Pepsi’s budget was allocated to TV.  The “voice” of the “new” Pepsi was hipper, smarter, more “leading edge” than Coke’s.  Commercials were written and designed to be “stories” about how much the Pepsi drinker loved the product.  Wit, humor and current music were used to drive the brand.   Celebrities like Michael J. Fox, Lionel Ritchie, David Bowie, Michael Jackson and others were used to connect with a youthful brand image.  A handful of commercials even used Coke as the foil.

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  • Results

    “The Choice of a New Generation” campaign proved to be highly appealing, especially with the younger audience.   People would watch these commercials more often because they entertained, making Pepsi’s smaller budget work harder and go further.  Many outside the target age adopted Pepsi as their brand of choice too because they imagined themselves as part of that younger demographic.

    Within 3 years, Pepsi-Cola became the #1 brand of soft drink – when given a choice of soft drinks to pick.

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