Pepsi is the world's most famous #2 multi-billion dollar brand. The war between Pepsi and its arch-rival Coke has been raging for years, and the battle of the colas has been extended into other product areas as well. Parent PepsiCo established itself as top dog outside the cola market, with a world-beating snacks business and a portfolio of other soft drinks that sometimes outsell or outmanoeuvre their rivals from The Coca-Cola Company. But Pepsi itself seems destined to stay in second place. But only to the rival cola. In all other respects this is still a global giant, with worldwide sales of close to $30bn. But second-place is still second-place, and like that other brand that made a virtue out of being the underdog, car rental company Avis, it means Pepsi tries harder even if it doesn't usually succeed... Like its rival, the Pepsi trademark comes in multiple different versions. The main brand is Pepsi itself of course, supported in its domestic market by what is now Pepsi Zero Sugar - this was originally Pepsi One, later rebranded to Pepsi Max, in a slightly different formulation to the PepsiMax sold in Europe - and also a wide variety of flavoured variants including Wild Cherry, Vanilla, Cinnamon and even Salted Caramel. Pepsi-Cola 1893 is a vintage-themed special edition. In most other global markets, the portfolio houses the main Pepsi brand, Diet Pepsi and Pepsi Max. The latter are both "zero sugar" but with slightly different formulations. Other versions and flavours vary widely from country to country. Pepsi's US market share is stronger than it is in other global markets, but a particular weakness is the key "fountain" sector - sales through restaurants, bars and hotels - which Coca-Cola dominates. Virtually all the major fast-food chains serve only Coke. Pepsi has sought to combat its rival by building endorsement partnerships in entertainment - primarily music, and especially in the US, where it has for years forged partnerships with top-selling artists from Michael Jackson in his 1980s heyday through Madonna, Britney Spears, Kanye West, Beyonce, Pink and many more, right up to The Weeknd, star of the Pepsi-sponsored Super Bowl 2021 half-time show, and its accompanying advertising. Outside the US Pepsi is best-known for endorsement partnerships in football, with Leo Messi as its main international brand ambassador. However, Pepsi's international sales trail even further behind its rival cola. Globally it is the 6th most purchased consumer product with around 2.2bn of what researcher Kantar calls annual "consumer reach points", effectively individual purchases. However, Coca-Cola is the global #1 with almost three times that number. In most countries, local responsibility for the brand, along with other drinks from the PepsiCo stable, is sub-contracted to local manufacturers including Britvic in the UK, Suntory Beverage in Japan and several other Asia markets, Lotte in Korea and AmBev in Latin America.
Capsule checked 8th January 2021
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Historical profile information for Pepsi
Adbrands Social Media 11th Jun 2019: "No Can Left Behind". No expense was spared for AMV BBDO's new campaign for Pepsi Max, aimed presumably at a wider global market than just the UK. We don't imagine Paul Rudd comes cheap anymore, now that he's attained Marvel superhero status, and nor do his 'Ant-Man' buddy Michael Pena and 'Thor: Ragnarok' director Taika Waititi. It's quite a blow-out altogether, and all in support of a funny gag about not forgetting to take a can of Pepsi Max into space.
Adbrands Social Media 29th Jan 2019: "More Than OK". The odd thing about advertising for Pepsi is that, even now, more than a century after its creation, it is still to a large extent defined by its rivalry with a certain other popular beverage. It's like some kind of Groundhog Day version of Avis's famous "We Try Harder" but one that lasts for over 120 years. Coke never has to mention Pepsi in its advertising, but the bigger brand is always lurking somewhere in the background of most Pepsi marketing. Goodby Silverstein's Super Bowl spot for the blue beverage makes fine use of Steve Carell's Ultimate Mr Nice Guy persona, and also throws in cameos from Cardi B and Lil' Jon to make sure that every market demographic is catered for. And you know what? The results are more than OK; they're really rather good in fact.
Adbrands Social Media 7th Jan 2019: "The Encounter". Best comedy ad of a Golden Globes ceremony filled with unexpected winners was this brilliant sci-fi parody from Goodby Silverstein & Partners for Pepsi, a pastiche of Denis Villeneuve's 'The Arrival' movie. William H Macy - the character actor's character actor - solves the mystery of what these alien visitors want from mankind. It's arguably a little late in the day for an 'Arrival' parody, but the spot more than makes up for that in the final sequence with a series of surprise gags nesting one inside another like a set of Russian Matryoshka dolls.
Adbrands Weekly Update 30th Jun 2016: Pepsi has backtracked on a decision to remove aspartame from its Diet Pepsi range following a sharp fall in sales. It dropped the widely used artificial sweetener, which has been linked in social media and word of mouth to supposed health concerns, last summer in favour of sucralose, believing that this would repair sales that were already in decline. However, far from recovering, those declines actually accelerated, not least because sucralose has a significantly different taste. US retail volumes of Diet Pepsi fell almost 11% in 1Q 2016, according to market watcher Beverage Digest, compared to under 6% for Diet Coke. Now PepsiCo said it will reintroduce Diet Pepsi with aspartame in September, under the name Diet Pepsi Classic Sweetener Blend, alongside standard Diet Pepsi, sweetened with sucralose.
Adbrands Weekly Update 26th Nov 2015: Full marks to the creative brains behind the promotional marketing partnership now running between PepsiCo and Fox's hit music biz series Empire. In the show, fictional up-and-coming singer Jamal Lyon signed a sponsorship deal with Pepsi two weeks ago, and this week shot an ad for it - directed in fact by Empire's real-life co-creator Lee Daniels, playing himself on-screen. That story arc will culminate in next week's mid-season finale with the launch of the resulting ad at an industry event. Cut to the commercial break, and the ad will air for real, and will also be repeated for the rest of the current season as well as in other Fox shows. Said to have cost Pepsi around $20m, the deal was brokered by Wasserman Media Group.
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