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 Daily Update 14th May 2021: "The Mess We Miss". This is truly the season of the End Of Lockdown ad. Here's a fine but very unPepsi ad for Pepsi from VaynerMedia, an agency whose creative output seems to be improving by leaps and bounds. It's less of an ad for the drink than it is a glorious reminder of the way we used to carry on until February 2020. Now... with the benefit of the past year's experience, you will regard this fabulously rich compendium of unhygienic vignettes with either dewy-eyed anticipation ("Let's get re-started!!!") or queasy revulsion ("Never again!!!"). The ad itself seems unapologetically undecided. Are the interactions depicted a good thing? Or a timely warning of how we got ourselves into this mess in the first place? (And as a sidebar, we wonder what kind of Covid precautions were put in place during the filming of the ad to ensure it didn't become a super-spreader event in its own right. Oh, the irony!)
Adbrands Daily Update 10th Mar 2021: "Fizz". Hard-pressed AMV BBDO's grip on the UK PepsiCo account - one of its biggest if not the biggest overall - continues to loosen as Mother joins the Pepsi roster with this effervescent spot featuring rapper and comedian Big Shaq. In its approach and its use of sound collage, older viewers might be reminded of the same brand's timeless "Lipsmackin' thirstquenchin'..." ads (by Dave Trott at BMP) with which we grew up almost 50 years ago. That was mould-breaking back then in the 1970s, and this feels similarly revolutionary today, a reduction of branding to pure sensation that goes several steps further even than Coca-Cola's latest "Ooh! Ahh!" campaign.
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.
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