Article

Kevin Adema
Kevin Adema 5 April 2017

Pepsi's Brand Misstep Reopens The Door For Coke

Pepsi missteps with its new Kendall Jenner-featured, Live For Now campaign and sets the stage for an imminent beverage industry battle.

In the wake of Coca-Cola’s digital disruption and CMO shakedown, Pepsi missteps with its new Kendall Jenner-featured, Live For Now campaign and sets the stage for an imminent beverage industry battle.

Not only has Pepsi’s campaign stirred up major backlash and opposition on both digital and traditional media streams with citations of being “tone deaf, cringeworthy and offensive”, one must question why they positioned their brand into a tumultuous civil and political climate? Citing US Magazine’s coverage: “the imagery of Jenner handing the cop the can was immediately compared to the moment when real-life protester Leshia Evans faced down a line of riot police during a Black Lives Matter demonstration, before being arrested.”

Pepsi issued a defense stating: “This is a global ad that reflects people from different walks of life coming together in a spirit of harmony, and we think that’s an important message to convey.”

On it’s own, there is no inherent argument around Pepsi’s response. Those are all fair statements but why is Pepsi trying to make that their message? Are they now a humanitarian brand? Are they really in a position to address it or more importantly, do they have the power to actually realize positive change?

We’re destined to see a strategy battle of epic proportions in the beverage industry: last year, soda consumption fell to a 30-year low and as astutely pointed out in a recent Forbes article, both brands are now staring down the barrel of a sociographic reality of past brand blunders. “Overall sociographic changes are irreversible. Sociographics are the characteristics that influence the way people receive and perceive your brand’s messages – they ultimately define how your market behaves socially.” 

Pepsi attempted to align themselves with the market but obviously the market didn’t receive or perceive it well.

On the other side, we again just saw how Coca-Cola has mixed up the C-suite with a corporate-wide mandate to increasing visibility and focus on efforts to digitize all aspects of the company’s business.

The scorecard has been set:

In the red corner: Coke’s Taste the Feeling

In the blue corner: Pepsi’s Live For Now

Who the winner will be is whichever brand figures out the actual market first.

Digital disruption isn’t actually about technology. Digital disruption is about:

  1. Understanding the actual realities of the market
  2. Knowing the true needs, wants, beliefs and motivations of consumers
  3. Framing your business and brand relevantly within that context
  4. And then…using technology for engagement

So go make yourself a cocktail, mix it with either Coke or Pepsi, sit back and watch the battle begin…

Original Article

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