Pepsi hopes to follow its decades-long history of placing a motto on everyone’s lips.
The beverage giant today is unveiling five different commercials all aimed at burnishing its latest slogan, “That’s What I Like.” In all of the spots, crafted with Omnicom Group’s Goodby Silverstein & Partners and Alma, an ad agency that specializes in multicultural audiences, ordinary people find the sound of opening a Pepsi can spurs them to dance and carry on in public – as if no one else were watching (in reality, they are).
“These are people who live lives out loud, without worrying about other things,” says Todd Kaplan, vice president of marketing of marketing for Pepsi.
For decades, Pepsi has trotted out clever marketing phrases like “Joy of Pepsi,” “Pepsi. It’s the Cola,” “The Choice of a New Generation” “Live For Now” and “For Those Who Think Young.” More often than not, the sayings were employed in the service of the company’s flagship drink. In 2020, however, the Madison Avenue aphorisms are being used to tout all Pepsi-affiliated beverages, which also include Diet Pepsi and Pepsi Zero Sugar varieties.
That decision may reflect a reality of the soda business. Americans continue to spend millions on the bubbly sugar drinks, but they are using more of their hard-earned cash to buy iced tea, water, seltzer and other beverages with more health benefits. Uniting all the Pepsi brands under a single mantra helps define the drinks against a wider field of rivals.
Pepsi is gathering its many offshoots together in advertising as the soda business may have found a new base. In 2018, the volume of carbonated soft drinks sold in the U.S. dipped only marginally, according to Beverage Digest, after more than a decade of bigger declines. Even so, Pepsi’s four biggest brands lost market share in terms of volume as Coca-Cola’s flagship beverage remained flat; Diet Coke’s fell; and Coke Zero Sugar and Sprite gained.
Pepsi executives were happy with 2019 performance, says Kaplan. “The business is back in growth mode, and our brand equity has increased,” he says, “We are really happy with how the brand in this past year has performed.”
In the past, Pepsi often defined itself with comparisons to Coca-Cola. In Pepsi ads, Coke was seen as the stodgy brand tied to history and tradition, while Pepsi was portrayed as the choice for younger, active consumers.
Now Pepsi is ready to pitch itself as emblematic of today’s lifestyle, not necessarily as the yin to its rival’s yang. Pepsi drinkers are “passionate and loyal. They are a little bit ‘extra.’ They are comfortable in their own skin, enjoy life without worrying what other people think.”
New ads set to debut this weekend during the NFL Wild Card games and NBC’s Golden Globes telecast will show people cutting loose on the subway; at a sports game; and even while working at an airport.
Whether any of these themes will be used in Pepsi’s annual efforts around the Super Bowl remains to be seen. “We will have to chat later,” says Kaplan.