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...
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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.
Adbrands Weekly Update 22nd Oct 2015: Pepsi withdrew from its five year title sponsorship of India's Premier League Cricket tournament two years ahead of schedule. It made no public statement on the decision, but the withdrawal is said to be connected with a series of corruption scandals associated with the league, including allegations of match-fixing and insider betting. There are only eight teams in the league, but two of the biggest received a two year suspension in July, and a director of each team was banned for life from any future involvement in the sport.
Adbrands Weekly Update 30th Apr 2015: Coca-Cola Company managed to offset the impact from currency with the strongest underlying growth it's seen for more than two years. Volumes of both still and sparkling beverages rose during the quarter, with especially strong performances from Coke Zero and Sprite, up 5% and 4% respectively. Reported group revenues rose 1% to $10.7bn. Ex currency devaluation, the growth would have been 8%. The main weak spot was Diet Coke, down 6% because of an apparent consumer backlash in North America against alleged (but entirely unproven) health risks associated with the artificial sweetener aspartame. PepsiCo also reported a solid quarter, but has taken more dramatic steps to counter the slide in sales of its own low-cal competitor Diet Pepsi. It announced plans to drop aspartame as the sweetener in that drink in favour of a blend of sucralose and acesulfame potassium. (Aspartame, long the sweetener of choice in low-cal drinks, is marketed separately to consumers as Equal, Nutrasweet or Canderel; sucralose is better-known as Splenda). Seth Kaufman, SVP of PepsiCo North America Beverages, said: "Diet cola drinkers in the US told us they wanted aspartame-free Diet Pepsi and we're delivering." The timing of PepsiCo's announcement couldn't be better. Coca-Cola must now press on with aspartame or be seen to be following in its rivals' footsteps. A change of ingredients would also have disturbing echoes for the company. By stunning coincidence (or more likely clever planning on Pepsi's part) this week marks the 30th anniversary of the company's disastrous 1985 decision to meddle with its formula and relaunch its top-selling drink as New Coke. The resulting consumer backlash almost destroyed the company.
Adbrands Weekly Update 2nd April 2015: Pepsi regained its position as the #2 soft drink in the US last year, pushing Diet Coke back into third place. In fact it's not so much Pepsi's gain, according to researcher Beverage Digest, as Diet Coke's flagging popularity amid health concerns over sweeteners and the continuing erosion of the overall carbonated soft drinks market, which slipped almost 1% in total volumes as traditional brands continued to lose share to energy drinks. Diet Coke's 6.6% slide in sales volumes was more than three times higher than Pepsi's 1.8% decline. Regular Coke held onto the top spot with a marginal 0.1% volume lift. Yet it wasn't all gloom for old school carbonates. There was solid growth for Fanta (up 5% to a best-ever volume total) and Sprite (up 1%). Yet no question about who the real winners are in the wider liquid refreshment market: water brands. Nestle Pure Life jumped 8.9% in volume sales, while regional brand Poland Spring added 7.9%, and Coke's Dasani water brand climbed 8.2%. Pepsi's AquaFina, though still outside the Top 10, was up 7%. Nestle Waters also overtook Dr Pepper Snapple to become the overall #3 in the US liquid refreshment sector behind Coke and Pepsi.
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