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Food Theory: Did Pepsi Make a $1,000,000 MISTAKE?!

Apr 17, 2023
It's now 2023, and with the Theorist channel wheel finally complete, I think it's time for a rebrand. We really want these channels to go back to their roots, you know, really to the basics. No no no. I don't mean just go back to 2011. I mean, let's go back to before the dawn of color. We're going black and white here, people. Yes, just differentiate all channels in shades of gray. That won't be confusing at all. And you know what, circles? No, they are out of date. They are not modern and fresh. Nowadays those gene zers, those zoomers, they want them triangles, baby.
food theory did pepsi make a 1 000 000 mistake
Four quadrants, three sides. We are turning this into the Triforce of Theorists, the Theory-force. That way, subliminally, you are reminded of some of your favorite old retro gaming franchises but for a new modern age. And then to really emphasize what we're doing here, we need the word "


" to be big front and center, bigger, even bigger. Enormous.


it huge Hello Internet! Welcome to Food Theory, where you can always stop by for a drink of cool and refreshing information. Have you seen the new Pepsi logo? One of the oldest brands in the queue has a new logo appearing on all Pepsi packaging and fall 2023, and the internet is already getting excited about it. months before its eventual release.
food theory did pepsi make a 1 000 000 mistake

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A major departure from Pepsi's sleek, flat, subtle design of the past decade, the new logo now punches shoppers in the face with lines, angles, and a kind of "it's Pepsi, whether you like it or not." ". As soon as this new look was announced, every armchair marketing gurus from Twitter to TikTok began to weigh in on this new design. The great collective feelings of the internet only rose after learning that Pepsi spent a whopping $1 million to design this thing. Which just goes to show that I've been in the wrong industry all this time. In all seriousness though, don't tell our editors and graphic designers that they could put together something that looks like a five minute Photoshop job and


seven figures.
food theory did pepsi make a 1 000 000 mistake
This is putting me in a very difficult situation here, Pepsi. But until then, the internet already has plenty of bones to choose from with this new logo, which at first glance seems a bit strange to me. All these angles in the font, the 'P' design makes it look like "Depsi", some kind of sad brand of cola. Then there's the size of the lettering, which feels a bit too big for where it's placed. The color scheme that makes you want to schedule your next eye exam. There's a lot going on here, and while this new logo looks nothing like the old one, at the same time, there's something familiar about it.
food theory did pepsi make a 1 000 000 mistake
If you're a soft drink aficionado like me, or connect with the 65+ demographic, please thank the 3% of our audience. You've probably noticed that this new rebranding is just the 1962 Pepsi logo, just with a weird extra font in the middle. So all of this has led to the collective question: What's going on with this? Why would Pepsi create a worse version of its own 60 year old logo? When I first saw it, I thought, Well, I guess we just chalked it up to another big corporation that's throwing a ton of money down the drain. But after doing some digging, it turns out that I couldn't be more wrong.
Yes. I'm here to tell you that Pepsi is actually laughing all the way to the bank with this one. This logo is like the 4D chess of the soft drink world. If you hate this new Pepsi logo, watch this episode. And I almost guarantee that in the end you will like it, or at least, you will be forced to respect it. And I guess if you already liked it, well then you can prove your superiority over me and then gain a lot of Pepsi knowledge that you can bring out at parties. Trust me, I plan to use all of this information in this episode at my next family gathering with my Aunt Corey, who only drinks Pepsi.
So this one's for you, Aunt Corey. To understand what Pepsi is doing here, it helps to know the history of their logos. As it turns out, Pepsi has drastically changed its logos many times, unlike other soft drink brands like Coca Cola, which is famous for never changing its main logo. Because? Well, because from the first days of its history, Pepsi has distinguished itself by being, in quotes, Cool Cola, the one that keeps up to date. And they do it by changing their logo a lot. The original Pepsi logo debuted in 1898, right next to us here in North Carolina.
Our little Pepsi neighbor friends. The word Pepsi was actually based on the word dys


a, which means indigestion. And it came out as one of several drinks at the time designed to settle your stomach and heal your ailments. The Pepsi logo debuted in this bright red font that was filled with spikes, which seemed like a much hotter topic than a soft drink. Through the 1940s, they kept the concept, but softened the lines several times to copy the look of Coca-Cola's swoopy, curvaceous design. Since Coca-Cola dominated the market. We've talked in previous episodes about how Coca Cola increased its marketing budget during the Great Depression and won big as a result.
So at this point in its history, Pepsi wasn't ready to become cool cola. It was just trying to survive for a couple of decades by riding the coattails of Coca-Cola. That all changed in 1950, when Pepsi decided to step out of Coca-Cola's shadow by rebranding based on the fresh, modern word of the day. Patriotism. That's how it is. After the Allied victory in World War II, there was a huge wave of Go USA! sentiment, which Pepsi then capitalized on in the most American way possible: by exploiting it for marketing purposes. Pepsi slapped its logo, which would go from cursive to all capital letters right in the middle of a red, white, and blue globe, implying that the United States was the world winner, and that winners drink Pepsi.
They promoted themselves during the 1950s and 1960s as the drink for those who think of the young, differentiating themselves from your father's Coca Cola. 'Cause this is the new age of rock and roll, baby. You have the Beatles, you have Elvis. They feel comfortable with those shaking hips. So this is the angle they stuck with for the rest of the brand's history, you can even see Britney Spears echoing the same line in her 2002 Pepsi Super Bowl commercial. In the early sixties, Pepsi updated their logo again and introduced a new marketing slogan, The Pepsi Generation, all about the new cool kids, the hippies.
They flattened their globe logo to fit the modern aesthetic of the new generation. About ten years later, they were ready to prove again that they were cool and with that. So, in 1975, Pepsi launched the Pepsi Challenge, in which they challenged people to compare Pepsi to Coke and drop their outdated, quote-unquote notion that Coke was better. Continuing with the idea that Pepsi was younger, more modern, more fun. I like to imagine Pepsi as the living embodiment of the “hello mates” meme, just put the Pepsi logo right there on that meme. 1991 was a pivotal year for the Pepsi logo, commonly known as the breakout, where Pepsi removed its name from the now-iconic Globe and sent it floating into the ether.
From then on, all Pepsi logos would feature forward-leaning italic letters because Pepsi is a forward-thinking soft drink for new generations. As time went on, the logo would become bluer to erase any similarity shared with rival Coca-Cola. Moving closer to 2000, we entered the weird quasi-3D era of Pepsi, where the Globe got rounder, and Pepsi heralded the Joy of Cola movement, featuring a new millennium toddler to shift Pepsi back to another new generation. Like other logos in the late 1990s and early 2000s, everything went shiny and 3D before returning in the 1920s to flat, overly casual designs that could become app titles.
Pepsi's current logo before this new rebranding is a version of this flattened ball with a striped globe with a lowercase logo meant to mimic the casual branding of the cool tech companies of the last ten years. This logo is also supposed to resemble an emoji, subliminally evoking a smile, indicating that unlike certain boring old brands, Pepsi is younger, a bit cheeky. She knows how to text and understands what an eggplant splash really means. The design for this latest update to the brand, which debuted in 2008, cost Pepsi $1,000,000. And for the first time in Pepsi's long marketing history, it was deemed to be a hit and miss.
The logo was not symmetrical. The name is awkwardly pushed aside, and instead of sounding like a drink for cool people, it comes across as a drink for those trying to market. People called it a copy of the Obama logo in the wake of his successful 2008 campaign, and it was seen as lazy and over the top. It's been languishing in brand purgatory ever since. So why did I just drag you through a whole page of Pepsi history? I do this to highlight how important it has been over the past hundred years for Pepsi to look good in the public eye.
And to show them that the last attempt they made in 2008 was a huge


compared to the previous 90 years of success. The weight of Pepsi's history as Cool Cola, combined with the pressure to win big this time around, creates a unique pressure cooker moment for Pepsi right now. And it's all come to a head with this, the biggest rebranding they've done in the last 40 years. So let's go back and see what started all this discussion in the first place. This new logo, one of the biggest brands in the world with pretty much all the money in the universe, created a logo that looks like it's the 1950s all over again.
So has the new Generation Cola brand given up and gone back to its roots? The answer is a definit no. Pepsi is actually doing what it has always done. This time it is more difficult to distinguish. At first glance, this logo seems to make no sense. But here's my take: Pepsi is, in fact, changing its logo for the new generation, and this iteration of the Pepsi logo will do just that. You do not believe me? Let's look a little closer, shall we? At first glance, the globe and lettering in this logo appear to be a big, chunky retread from a bygone era of Pepsi history, but uglier and a little worse.
So how does this represent a connection to a new generation? Well, it's important to identify who exactly this new generation is. And right now, the target demographic for all the big retailers, brands, and, yes, soda companies, is Generation Z, a demographic that spans from the end of high school to their early twenties. And luckily for Pepsi, they're also a nostalgia-obsessed generation. From vinyl records to coastal granny chic fashions, a resurgence of Tamagotchis and an interest in driving in theaters. Gen Z loves old stuff. There are many possibilities as to why this is the case, and Pepsi has been trying to play on several of them with this rebranding.
One idea is that Generation Z has grown up on the internet and has spent their lives exposed to mostly short-lived media in the form of viral videos and TikTok trends. There's nothing in his pop culture that feels tangible, nothing that feels permanent or lasting. Looking for something that feels stable in a world with a TikTok attention span has led Gen Z to love nostalgic brands that feel more storied and more stable. Brands like Pepsi. Going hand in hand with that. Generation Z has grown up with the pressure of constantly viewing their lives online and trying to live up to the image of social media perfection.
By contrast, nostalgic brands hark back to a simpler time without the pressure of an online comment section, making them attractive to idealize for Gen Z, who are stressed and overwhelmed by constantly having to face the court of law. Public opinion. Pepsi hits the mark for a nostalgic Gen Z brand with its long history and tangible eras. It's basically Soda's Taylor Swift. When you combine this with the idea that Gen Z actually has access to a lot of nostalgic brands, from eBay's vintage clothing marketplace to Spotify's retro playlist recommendations. You see how this generation is better positioned to love and appreciate brands that embrace the retro analog side.
TL; DR by leaning on the old Pepsi is actually directly appealing to today's new soda drinkers, and this connection goes even deeper. While Gen Z certainly loves nostalgia. They do not adopt the values ​​of those earlier times. This generation wants to right the wrongs of the past to promote more ethical standards in everything from race to mental health and yes, even


. Emerging consumers areopenly against


additives, processed foods and the big S word: sugar. While Gen Z doesn't care as much about fat and cholesterol as previous generations. 30% of Gen Z say they avoid sugar completely.
How the hell is a soda company full of sugar and sweeteners supposed to look acceptable to that type of consumer? Well, it's easy if you know a thing or two about subliminal messaging and you can bet the Pepsi marketing team knows a lot. Pepsi has always had a lot of symbolism in its logo, but did you know that the colors they use subliminally convey emotions? It's not something shady or unusual in and of itself. Most brands choose a color that represents them based on how they want you to feel about them. Even our logo for Theory of Food is yellow because we wanted it to convey a happy and light-hearted perspective on food, and we wanted it to fit in with the other yellow logos on YouTube to help people accept it as part of the food community.
For Pepsi, its colors represent its emotional values. The blue symbolizes the Pepsi soft drink. It's quenching thirst. Red symbolizes Pepsi as an exciting and even sports drink. And the white in the logo was always intended to represent the sugary sweetness of the drinks. But now all this is surrounded by black. Because? Fast Company posits that it is meant to make you think of Pepsi Black. The only other place Pepsi has ever used this color and the only sugar-free version of Pepsi printed right there on the bottle. More explicitly, Pepsi's chief executive has stated that zero pricing will be at the center of his strategy for the Pepsi brand going forward because he has seen consumers switch to zero pricing.
Subliminally, consumers who don't want sugar in their drinks are more likely to associate the Black Pepsi brand with a healthier soft drink. Read the color as a sugar-free refreshing drink that is exciting to drink. So while the new logo may look like a random mix of colors that don't quite fit together. They are working overtime for your subconscious and the subconscious of the new generation that matters most to Pepsi. So, having overcome Gen Z's love of nostalgia and his aversion to sugar, at least subliminally, the last thing left in the fight for this generation is attention.
There have never been so many brands competing for you to spend your money on and with a million things to watch and pay attention to online, how is Pepsi supposed to stand out? Well, his answer is the same as everyone else's clickbait. Take a look again at this new Pepsi logo. It's bold, it's focused, it's clean. And between the size of the letters and that weirdly pointy font, there's something weird about it. It's not a pretty logo. It's kind of ugly. And that ugliness makes it stand out. In other words, it's clickable. Like a thumbnail where the eyes are a little too big or a mark with a very loud color trying to grab your attention.
The new Pepsi logo is designed to stand out in a sea of ​​images. One thing that I think Pepsi has realized through this branding initiative that a lot of other food and beverage companies haven't yet grasped is that they're not competing with the same players that they were 15 or even ten years ago. Before, food and drink brands only competed with each other. Pepsi competes with Coca-Cola. It's the classic rivalry. But now brands are competing on a completely different playing field. They are competing against the creators. don't believe me. Well, just take a look at the episode I did on Prime of Logan Paul quickly eating his Gatorade lunch.
Mr. Beast's Feastables swept in and completely crushed all competitors in the candy bar category. By the way, he has made more than the $10 million I said in that Prime episode. 50 million? 100 million? I don't know. I just recited the number for the public. But Jimmy, I know it bothered you. So if you'd like to leave a comment below, I'll make sure it sticks. Regardless, the point is that the future for these food and drink companies is looking a bit shaky in the face of the creators and their millions of Gen Z fans. Other categories that are set to change in the coming years are cereal, the entire aisle of snacks, energy bars and, yes, soft drinks.
You didn't sponsor me Diet Coke and now the theorists are coming for you. To compete with these brands, Pepsi has to attract a lot of attention. And in the age of the Internet, that's not achieved by making the brand subtle. In fact, you achieve it by doing the exact opposite. You make sure that it is immediately eye-catching, recognizable at a glance. Maybe put your name in big letters on a red, white, and blue background. It's just an idea. So now you know the secrets of the new Pepsi logo, why it's so important to Pepsi, and exactly who it was designed for.
Most importantly though, every brand you see around you is trying to appeal to you or probably someone like you in a specific way. Whether you realize it or not. The million dollars Pepsi spent on the goofy-looking logo seems like a lot. But once you understand how much money is at stake here, that's one miniature you don't want to underperform. But hey! That's just a


. A FOOD THEORY! Enjoy. And hey, if you want the story of how Pepsi once had its own Navy, click the video to the left. Or if you want to see something from the rival brand, open the video on the right about how Santa Claus created Sprite.
See you next week, my friends.

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