Pepsi or Coke? Next to Microsoft and Apple, the Coca-Cola and Pepsi rivalry is among the most legendary brand rivalries in the world. Theirs is a long-standing battle that has been going on for more than a century. Coca-Cola was first introduced in 1886 and Pepsi some 12 years later. Since then these two cola companies have been slinging mud at each other.
Often, the fight involved billions of advertising dollars spent in offering incentives that will coax people into buying their cola over the other. Money is not an issue to them as long as they get the top spot in the Cola industry.
There’s a lesson to learn, though, from this war. For a start, Coca-Cola and Pepsi set the stage in shifting design trends. For instance, from elaborate logo and print ads, both companies saw the beauty of simplification. They stripped their brands and magnified it to the core image they want people to see of their product. This is a trend widely use in the graphic design industry today.
Also, creativity is promoted. Advertisers have to put all their creativity on the table to develop ads that will turn heads and push people to buy. This has led to several re-branding strategies from both companies. Redefining a brand, though, is not always as easy as it seems, and both Coca-Cola and Pepsi learned that the hard way. When Coca-Cola replaced their classic Coca-Cola with a reformulated New Coke in April 1985, consumers went crazy. The company was forced to return to its classic formula and original brand just three months after the release of the New Coke. Pepsi, on the other hand, recently suffered from bad re-branding. The company spent $1 million on its latest logo design , but the result was a “real waste of time and money, especially if you’ve seen the design spec document… An amazing, purposeless document that has no brand value at all,” says Frankel.
Interesting enough, both companies have good reputation in terms of advertising. They both have colorful and thought-provoking ads, which added color to their long-standing rivalry. Even in their vintage ads one can see the heat of the competition.
Pepsi ads, 1900-1960s
1909 vintage Gibson girl tin serving tray
1950s Pepsi ads targeted the figure-conscious, classy, upscale women.
1960s ads were for the young generation with different values, thus the catchphrase “The Sociables prefer Pepsi”.
1964 Pepsi ad carried the slogan “You’re in the Pepsi generation”
Coca-Cola ads, 1900-1980s
There’s no clear indication that the Cola war is ending. To consumers this is a great advantage as price war will continue which will force both companies to reduce their prices and improve their products. To the advertising industry this is also great news as designers and business owners can pick up important lessons in branding and advertising strategies. We can, thus, expect Pepsi and Coca-Cola to battle each other in the years to come.