After concentrating their efforts on Pepsi Max, Diet Pepsi, and also Sierra Mist, Pepsi is now re-focusing efforts on their flagship Pepsi-Cola in their latest advertisement. Drumming up the cola wars again, Pepsi’s ad depicts humor by showing a summer relaxing Santa Claus partying on the beach, and opting to drink a Pepsi instead of a Coke saying, “I’m on vacation, I wanna have a little fun.”
While all this is in good humor, this Pepsi comparison ad’s potential is enormous. Though it’s currently summertime, the ad and message has the ability to gain traction and extend into the Christmas season as well. Coca-Cola has traditionally dominated sales during Christmas and Pepsi has been trying various strategies over the years to break the stranglehold without much success. This campaign targets Coca-Cola’s Santa Claus, which is synonymous with Christmas, and may gain some form of success with consumers. Pepsi’s goal is to show viewers that even Santa Claus has switched to Pepsi and so should the consumers.
Should this campaign extend into the winter months, will Pepsi target other traditional Christmas Coca-Cola symbols such as polar bears and penguins? That all depends on the success of this summertime campaign. Massimo d’Amore, CEO-PepsiCo Beverages America, claims that Pepsi Max has grown triple digits since its initial Pepsi Diner 2.0 commercial, featuring a Pepsi Max truck driver and a Coke Zero truck driver. At the time of writing, Ad Age reported that Pepsi has commissioned for a continuation ad to be completed. Also, the elves featured in the summer time ad will be tweeting on behalf of the Pepsi Twitter account. Pepsi also reports that they will have other marketing support behind this summer time effort.
However, comparison advertising that pits one company against another clearly shows the consumer who the market leaders and followers are. After all, why would a market leader need to show an advertisement that features the follower? And why would a market leader respond in kind with an advertisement that will give the follower the satisfaction of knowing their comparison ad was successful, and provide them with free exposure? Coca-Cola has learned the lesson of responding to its competitor’s advertising long ago with its New Coke. Instead, they understand that as the global leader (trademark Coca-Cola has 51% global market share compared to Pepsi-Cola’s 22% global market share) they must continue setting newer and higher standards. The last few years, Coca-Cola’s ads have focused on gaining an emotional appeal with the consumer, while Pepsi targets Coca-Cola and without a specific message focus on taste, caloric content, or anything product-related.
We’ll see if Coca-Cola finally takes the bait from this latest Pepsi attack and attempt to revive the cola wars, but so far its been very one-sided.