Pepsi Max has been named the official soft drink of the National Football League, moving away from the regular Pepsi soft drink. This move comes after the Pepsi Max rebranding (BevWire blogged about that a couple of weeks ago) and Pepsi hopes to gain some momentum with the beverage. The new commercial features New York Jets’ quarterback Mark Sanchez “training” the Pepsi Max driver (also the same truck driver from their earlier spot about the Pepsi Max Diner 2.0). See below.
It’s an interesting move by Pepsi to change the official soft drink away from Pepsi. Is this a realization that consumers prefer full taste but no calories in their soft drinks? A good way to promote a smaller beverage, but what about protecting the sales of the main (read core, bread and butter, most important, etc) beverage in your soft drink portfolio? And Coca-Cola has been advertising their zero calorie alternative Coke Zero in the Superbowl since 2009, advertising Pepsi Max now might seem like a copycat move.
BevWire doesn’t believe this is a great move on Pepsi’s part. While the commercial is entertaining, it doesn’t make me any more likely to drink Pepsi Max. And although advertising a new (or repackaged) product is important, using a medium that was previously reserved for your core offering and replacing it with the new product isn’t the best move. Advertising dollars for Pepsi can always be allocated elsewhere, but where would you have such a strong audience to remind them about your most important soft drink. Unless Pepsi believes Pepsi Max is more important than Pepsi, and can also take down Coke Zero, changing the NFL official soft drink to Pepsi Max is not helpful. Also, Coke Zero’s advertising does not have to focus on comparing with Pepsi Max, making it the clear number one zero calorie soft drink my eyes. If you’re in first position, why do you have to change your strategy and get into a slugfest with the number two? The last time Coca-Cola did that, we saw a new cola formula come to the market and the disaster that was New Coke.
It will be interesting to see what happens to Pepsi Max sales now that it is the official NFL soft drink. Sales will undoubtedly rise, but will it rise enough to justify changing the preferred beverage from Pepsi? We’ll have to wait and see.