Coca-Cola and Pepsi. The two are synonymous with one another, and have waged one of the greatest feuds of all-time. Let’s take a look at some of the tactics used by each company during the infamous Cola Wars, which has been simmering for decades:
Looking to update their traditional recipe and leave Pepsi behind in their dust, Coca-Cola released New Coke. Despite a large marketing campaign, featuring the likes of Bill Cosby, this reboot backfired greatly on the company. Cosby even ended his relationship with Coke, stating that his credibility had suffered after endorsing the relaunch. Little did he know his character would fall to much greater depths years later.
Exploiting Santa Claus and Polar Bears
Coca-Cola has often used cute mascots in its advertising. Heck, they are credited with creating the likeness that we now identify Santa Claus as. Their polar bear family has also been quite popular and Pepsi hasn’t crafted their own character, in reply.
Touring North America, the Pepsi Challenge tested consumers tastes over whether they preferred Pepsi or “the other brand”. It certainly increased the awareness of Pepsi and the original Pepsi Challenge is often cited as the impetus for the New Coke debacle.
The Pepsi Points initiative allowed drinkers to collect points from the products and redeem them for prizes. In response, Coca-Cola launched the Coke Rewards program. One funny story involved a Pepsi Points collector suing the company when he attempted to redeem the jet plane (with an advertised price of seven million Pepsi Points) featured in one of the commercials for the campaign.
On one side of the battlefield, you have General Coke, Sergeant Sprite, Brigadier Barq’s, Major Minute Maid, Private Powerade, and other enforcements. Their counterparts, of course, include Pepsi, 7-Up, Mug, Tropicana, Gatorade, and the rest. And that’s without even delving into their snack food businesses and other tentacles of the conglomerates. For every addition to one company’s line, there is a counterpoint from the opposition.
One of the biggest pissing contests between the two companies can be seen in who they pay to endorse their products. While Coke seems to be the athlete’s choice, with LeBron James and Wayne Gretzky coming onboard, Pepsi has reeled in top music acts, such as Michael Jackson, Britney Spears, Kanye West, and Beyonce.
You’d think each company’s slogans wouldn’t matter too much, but they are loaded statements. For example, for Coke to call itself, “The Real Thing”, they’re pretty much saying that Pepsi is a copycat or fraud. On the other hand, Pepsi has gone so far as to use the catchphrase “The Best Drink Created Worldwide”… there’s no ambiguity with that.
Mixer Mania #19: Kalimotxo
- 4 oz Red Wine
- 4 oz Cola
- Garnish with a Watermelon Slice
The war rages on to this day, with both companies battling for big-time sponsorship deals and getting into various venues as the exclusive beverage provider. I will admit that I’ve always been a Pepsi fan and find Coca-Cola to only be a tolerable substitution when there’s no other option to be had.
Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
Also known as Calimocho, this drink – simple as it is – has become a hit within Spanish culture, so I had to give it a shot. Other recipes for the cocktail include a splash of Lemon Juice, but I didn’t have any on hand. The drink is actually quite tasty, reminding me of a Sangria-like beverage. Mrs. Sip, a member of the anti-pop lobby, even tried a quick sip and liked it. The Watermelon garnish was the result of that being the only fruit I had in the fridge.