Ad Experts Explain Coke vs. Pepsi | Vanity Fair
Pepsistands out in the history of marketing is one of the great great fights between two brands part of the reason these are ubiquitous brand is not just because they're on the shelf whenever you go to the supermarket but also because they've created an ethos that raised them into brands that are part of the public discussion both brands try to be always relevant sometimes one brand is more successful than the other that's why this is such a fantastic brand battle over the decades a first impressions I mean fabulous ad very ideological ad very very much connected with its time it's a global ad it's about diversity it's about peace so there you have it all it's a wonderful melody it's God lyrics that are engaging and encouraging and hopeful we're also seeing a transition at that time from the traditional corporate copy make sure you're talking about the functional benefits of your brand in some fashion that's not really a part of this ad at all but what is also interesting is they're all lined up like an army you know it's the Peace Corps alright here we have another American value or ideology which is individualism and freedom and
Pepsitries to associate itself here with that kind of feeling and ideology saying that they are part of a new generation right we've got grandma we've got kids you know the coca-cola ad at the time was all folks in there roughly college ever years whereas here we're...
seeing the entire family involved the ad is also very very much about active lifestyle you see sailing in the beginning you see barbecuing it's it's the most standard advertising format actually we've seen over and over again people smiling in ads and then showing them engaging in various activities and cuts between them and then the end you get some message it's not particularly creative both coca-cola and
Pepsiat this time are trying to create a broader impression of what the ad is what the company stands for what being a drinker of these products means to you the
Pepsimessage in a way is much more targeted than the
Cokemessage is a general value a general feeling whereas here we are associating that general value which is freedom with something much more specific which is you are the generation that wants to feel free this is the taste this is the test
Pepsichallenge was basically a blind test where people were tasting
Cokeand then they had to say which one tastes better those tests were set up in public and they were used as part of an advertising campaign so in a way this is also a very very modern omni-channel campaign because you're starting out with a
Pepsichallenge and you're filming that
Pepsichallenge and then they are putting it into the advertisement and you're probably also getting some PR on the way each time the
Pepsichallenge is showing up in your...
Pepsichallenge was a splendid marketing move because it really gets back to well what should matter to customers which is the taste in fact it was an aggressive move a bold move by
Pepsichallenge really stands out in the history of marketing is one of the great great fights between two brands you know they start with the functional thing god we taste good don't forget or try us if you haven't mixed in with the once you've tried us now you get to party and celebrate and feel good the
Pepsichallenge was quite successful it gave coca-cola hard time for many many years they didn't know how to react to it then they saw their market share going down then they were wondering about that they should keep the old product and find a new way of differentiating it or whether they should introduce a new product the ultimate response ten years later only after the
Pepsichallenge was of course new
cokethere's never been a better taste the greatest discovery in a hundred years it's very rare to see something have such success that it actually drives not just a competitor but the market leader to go ahead and change the ingredients of their core product or service
cokelaunches a granddad totally new product with imagery that really suggests that there's something world-changing coming the imagery of the new
cokecan bursting out like a rocket ship from the old
cokecan you know trying to create that sense of where and we're being...
innovative in this we're not reacting to
Pepsiand it didn't last long at that time it was much more common for brands to just drive what customers consumed and we're seeing one of these very early examples of the opposite where company tried to make a change and got slapped in the face for it yeah I just want you to know I think you're the best ever yeah want my
cokeno no really you can have it okay you know looking at it now the amazing thing about it is how it's a story it's like it is a moment it's like a mini film you know that they've created but with these two characters and they have emotions and a connection and there's an event taking place and all of that in one minute why would you want to appeal to emotions rather than just to a rational persuasion well emotions is something that is close to people's hearts it's something that people will remember so that story arc allows someone to have a journey that they go on which can create a more lasting memory therefore a better association with the brand connected to that story there's a sharing aspect again isn't it this sharing thing they have a lot of this sharing stuff you know bringing the world giving everybody a
cokeobviously we're seeing two different choices of celebrity and story time
Pepsicontinues its approach of associating itself with a generation in this case also nice association with music this is becoming a style in advertising going forward...
when you want to signal youth you play music the commercial is his hit song so it's not really about Michael Jackson at all it is just about his art and his art form and includes that direct sense of endorsement by him incorporating the
Pepsibrand and some of the
Pepsikind of logo and statements of the time into the lyrics of his song I think you're seeing part of this transition of
Pepsibeginning to focus again as a differentiator to coca-cola more as this young demographic young generation trying new things attaching to what's next going on in society as opposed to what's here now the co got is very very much about a narrative it portrays a situation between a child and an adult zooming in on the child's emotion but still focusing on this relationship between the two whereas the
Pepsiad is more about something aspirational it's an image it's a utopia of youth culture and everybody's part of that from young youth to older youth to perhaps older people that want to aspire to be this idea this anticipation of what voice is this little girl gonna come out with now denna jumps right into sort of classic
Pepsiyou know brand related things this level of consistency this is the first time that humour is entering the cola wars so to speak the other ads before were lifestyle ads they were emotional ads they were rational ads but they never had a sense of humor it was a bold move by
Pepsito actually show the Koch logo this is the first time they...
are doing this since the
Pepsichallenge where it was clear who the competitor is even though they did not show the logo so this is very very strong comparative advertisement but it is put in a in a playful humorous context they're referencing grand theft auto which is you know hugely popular video game in the news at the time for potentially promoting violence among our children and being an inappropriate style game where it's promoting kind of gang violence and theft and hurting people in everyday life and of course
Cokehas done this wonderful twist where they've turned the protagonist instead of being a villain into a hero through grabbing his bottle at
cokeand paying for it instead of stealing it and then going out with his bottle of
cokeand creating this you know joy of life among all the community of this sort of grand theft auto world and kind of twisting a negative thing going on in society at the time into a positive thing the ad in a way is very postmodern deconstructivist because it plays with his idea of the video game but then it puts it into an advertising format and reverts it but despite all the jazzy execution there's still the underlying message that
Cokeis a brand that is shared you're seeing the tradition of
Cokeand its ethos presented in a modern-day context whereas with the
Pepsiad there is a humor so they're still tapping into a very strong emotion it's still creating a sense of enjoyment by making you laugh while...
watching the ads so again a simpler form of emotion in what
Pepsiis doing but potentially just as memorable or impactful in some ways of changing your mindset the next time you're looking to purchase a cola coca-cola also keeps this idea of it's the social drink for us as friends but it's a very contemporary and as such it will look very dated in few very directs creating the ad in a fashion in which you're talking about the ethos of the time or the ethos of society in general and coca-cola is playing on that sort of theme it's merging a long tradition of talking about the social values with the desires and needs of a millennial generation that's a political activist ad so ignoring the political content for a moment it's a lifestyle advertisement and it is trying to connect of course to a generation in that sense it's a very bold ad but it didn't work what immediately falls flat as compared to some of the successful coca-cola ads is this is way too specific to the imagery of conflict that was going on when this ad came out protests related to black lives matter France tried to tap into current political events into social cultural events and things going on in the world the question is whether
Pepsihas the permission to tap into the current social movements yeah they present
Pepsias the solution they more generally speaking does this generation want to be associated with a major global brand when it is talking about activism and social...
change and so on and in fact this ad got pulled pretty quickly after it came out
Pepsihad built in the same way
Cokehad an ability to respond to social crises of the time in the same way and they certainly didn't execute it very well you're the brand that's about humor and about fun and about music and change you're not the brand that's about peace and community and coming together the two ads approach this generation very very differently
Pepsigoes with a political social activists even aspirations of the generation whereas coca-cola is playing much more with the feeling of that generation in terms of its social connectedness and use of social media and being friends and so on
Pepsihas done something in a way much more risky but they failed we are the coca-cola company for an organic tea company a premium juice company we've got drinks for long days for birthdays for turning over new leaves this is the
Pepsithat your father drank and his father drank before he met your grandmother this is the
Pepsifor this model and his mom hi Cindy both campaigns are very very corporate coca-cola the coca-cola company is saying look we have all these different brands not just coca-cola which is very unusual they are doing it for the first time to have a corporate advertising campaign rather than product advertising also interestingly it's reflecting I think on a public level an awareness that's very clear from the declining sales in colas especially...
that what people want to drink is changing well we can learn several things about branding here number one a brand is much much more than a product because the product in this case is it's really relatively simple but the imagery that is being created through the branding through the communications through the various campaigns is it's mind-boggling these brands get associated with freedom they get associated with peace they get associated with social protests they get associated with friendship with anything even though the product is so simple it's really interesting to see this mix of the history of certain you know celebrities and commercials and moments of
Pepsiovertime as sort of a nostalgic
Pepsiad just not what we're used to seeing where most of what they're doing is about what's hot now and what's next an interesting you look at the closer of the ad and you're actually using an old logo right that's very rare for a company to sort of step back especially given you know the expenses that go into
Pepsi's adaptation of its logo a few years ago that really tie into that nostalgia is pretty unique in an ad campaign unless your core audience radically changes you need to maintain that stability in some fashion to keep that trust with your audience over time and we've seen both these companies do an excellent job at that but is absolutely amazing is that you have something like sugar water basically you know with a secret...
formula and it's being stylized in two grand battles of values and ideals and how a society should be government and it's all in there in the advertiser and it's all about sugar or ultimately