Saturday, October 22, 2011

Pepsi vs. Coca Cola – Never-ending war!

Coca Cola, the most famous luscious drink in the world, recently celebrated its 125th birthday. But the main rival, Pepsi, still claims that they are better then Coca Cola in every aspect. It is needless to say that these two companies have written thousands of pages of marketing strategies.

World War II was perhaps the most devastating and tragic conflict in history. The U.S. war in Vietnam was perhaps the stupidest conflict in history. But, there is no doubt that the war between Coca Cola and Pepsi is the most expensive one. However, some would characterize this conflict and as “the vainest”, because almost everyone knows that these two drinks are actually the same thing – regardless of the efforts that these two giants are doing to prove otherwise.

With parties all around the world, Coca Cola has recently celebrated 125 years of planet amusement.  And let me clear immediately the following misconception – they have not created Santa Claus, nor dressed him in red, but they did gave an invaluable contribution to his image and popularity. Their legendary logo hasn’t change throughout history, nor has their famous bottle.

Pepsi was created 12 years later, in 1898, when the enterprising Caleb Bradham mixed something in his garage, in New Bern, North Carolina.

The first advertisement for Pepsi was a poster with one of the first professional automobile race drivers, Barney Oldfield, who promoted the drink with: "A bully drink...refreshing, invigorating, a fine bracer before a race." Previously, Coca-Cola had already developed a marketing system, which included special coupons for the purchase of their drink, as well as huge commercials and murals on U.S. buildings. Some of them have been preserved to this day.

For decades, the “second drink” tried to reach the popularity and sales of Coca Cola, until a real earthquake that occurred in the forties. Pepsi’s president at that time, Walter Mack, realized that all ads for this two refreshing drinks promoted stereotypes against black people, or just ignored them completely. He realized that Pepsi could focus on the “negroes” – as the black Americans were called then - and devised a campaign in which African-Americans appeared in a more positive perspective.

However, racial segregation was still very strong throughout America, especially in the south. Pepsi’s marketing team suffered great discrimination, insults, and the members of Ku Klux Klan even threatened them with death. Pepsi tried to use this through the messages that told how Coca Cola is a racist company. Thanks to this, the sales of Pepsi in Chicago surpassed Coke for the first time. 

 However, the pressure on the company leaders, who did not want to lose white customers, was too strong. Walter Mack, who soon left the presidential chair, defended himself with the words: “We don't want it to become known as a nigger drink.

In the seventies, when the West entered the consumer heyday, the escalation of conflict that burned low for decades occurred. Thanks to the U.S. laws that allowed even the most aggressive advertising, Pepsi and Coca Cola started bombing each other with all forces they got.  That is how, in 1975, came the famous Pepsi Challenge.

Pepsi Challenge was, in fact, just an ordinary tasting that was supposed to prove that Pepsi is better, and that the people’s opinions were generally shaped with advertising and image. In shopping malls throughout U.S., a representative of Pepsi would set-up a stand with two unmarked cups. In one cup was Pepsi and in the other Coca Cola. The people would try both and then decide which drink was better. The test results showed that people preferred the taste of Pepsi.

From the late seventies and onwards, both brands hired celebrities as promoters. Pepsi started with Michael Jackson and Madonna, and Coca Cola responded with Paula Abdul and George Michael.  Pepsi later hired David Beckham, and even Britney Spears, which caused a scandal when she was caught with a glass of Coke in her hand.

Before that, in 1985 and a decade later, both drinks found themselves on a Space-shuttle "Challenger". Pepsi’s last great success was in the mid-nineties, when they launched a campaign called Pepsi Stuff. With each purchased can or bottle of Pepsi, you would receive a certain number of points, and by collecting them, you were able to redeem them for some gift. The success of the campaign was so great that Pepsi was selling more than Coca Cola, especially during the summer in which the Olympic Games were held in the United States, in Atlanta, where the headquarters of Coca-Cola is located.

One of the biggest scandals in the history of Pepsi is related to this very campaign. Their commercial claimed that anyone who collects seven million points, would receive as a gift a military plane - Harrier Jump Jet. For $700,000, Seattle resident John Leonard bought just enough points and asked his reward from Pepsi. When the company refused to give him an aircraft worth $23 million, Leonard sued them, but he lost...

How things stand now? Latest information indicates that Pepsi lost its second place by Diet Coke. But, apparently, Pepsi is preparing a new, and more “dangerous” campaign…

Pepsi and Coca Cola over the decades

-    1972 – Pepsi conquers Soviet Union
-    1975 – Pepsi launches Pepsi Challenge
-    1977 – Pepsi bought Pizza Hut
-    1985 – in April, Coca Cola changes her recipe and introduces New Coke
-    1985 – in July, Coca Cola returns to the old recipe
-    2000 – Coca Cola enters on the North Korean market
-    2002 – in Atlanta begins the operation Coca Cola Vanilla, which ends with a failure
-    2003 – Coca Cola starts selling its products in Iraq

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