Pepsi Refresh Everything: betting on optimism

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Up until now, Pepsi’s international advertising conjured up images of celebrities, humour and story lines which involved protagonists going to great lengths to get a Pepsi. It was all about the drink. Nothing inherently wrong with that – it was instrumental in Pepsi being where it is. TBWA, who replaced BBDO recently as the agency, has devised a campaign which is more about people’s sentiments & mood rather than about selling a cola. AdAge reports that the new campaign is about to break in the US with a 30-sec commercial.

My first reaction: I like. I saw the spot first and it was such a refreshing change from the typical cola ads. ‘Change’ as a platform did a lot of good for you-know-who at the recent US Elections. But is it just feel-good advertising hype? Is it the exact opposite of how US consumers feel today? Job cuts or fear of job cuts is very real. I am not sure when the Optimism Project’s research was done – maybe the effects of recession had not sunk in yet. The research says that the Millennial group ‘is more confident and excited about the future than any other generation’. So will they see it as just another clever advertising message or will it ring true? Time will tell.

The timing is right though. Obama’s call for change is still fresh in the US citizen’s minds. New Year is all about making plans to change. And sometimes when everyone is giving you the bad news, just that one stimulus about the silver lining is enough to make you feel positive. I am reminded of a recent editorial at Campaign India, which outlined all the good things that happened around in the recent past. Suddenly, my response was ‘hey things aren’t so bad after all’. I think the ‘optimism’ platform could work at that level. But can a cola drink engineer that optimism? Do comment.

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  1. No, actually this makes me sick.
    Latching onto peoples’ excitement surrounding the new President… to promote a soft drink? Many people are geniually excited that we’re going in a new direction, that things will improve, that we have our first African-American in office, etc. All of these have nothing to do with a beverage.
    Long term, the only thing this will create is PESSIMISM because, no matter what Americans are feeling–whether it be fear, hope, insecurity–there will be advertisers that will exploit these emotions in order to hawk products for their corporate clients.
    Even if this promotion works and Pepsi successfully dupes consumers, this still creates disgust of the advertising industry and those who earn a living by creating these promotions. They are slimy worms.
    I will drink Coke.

    • Walter, thanks for the comment. As I said, can a ‘cola drink engineer optimism’? Obviously not. Just as a cola does not suddenly make you attractive to the opposite sex or appear cool. These are just tools to create likable advertising. But in the bargain, if they get labelled slimy worms, that’s occupational hazard.

  2. I like this ad. I actually hate most of the cola ads in the past few years, except a few like those of Sprite, some of the Aamir Khan starring Coke ones, and may be the Beckham and little kid Pepsi one. But this is something different. Don’t know if this particular one will work for the Indian mass but will defintely be liked by the Indian cosmopolitan crowd.

    About a Cola drink engineering optimism… not sure if it will; but it certainly has raised my hopes in seeing better cola ads. Now I’m pretty optimistic about having a part in making better cola ads if I’m ever given the brief!

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