Invigorating carbonated cola drink…

14 May

Ok. So we have a situation. We have two camps in advertising, both clinging doggedly to the truth as they know it. On the one side, we have the laughable old grunters who think an ad should say something about the brand – what it does, why it’s good, how it adds to the world etc. And on the other we have the young turks who say it’s all about grabbing attention, being entertaining and using the ad to begin a conversation that will result in sales at a later date. Both have their fans and the advertising world is waiting to find out who are the Neanderthals and who are the Homo sapiens.

And so here we have an offering from the people who asked us to ‘refresh the world’ in 2010 and whose commitment to social media advertising over traditional above the line lost them so many sales to Coca Cola that they still have not recovered. Bloggers far more laudable than me have chronicled this.

I have to claim ignorance about Pepsi Max. I don’t actually know what it is, what it does or who it’s for. It’s clearly different from Pepsi and Diet Pepsi, and possibly free from calories. Perhaps it’s Coke Zero to Diet Coke – the same drink repackaged so blokes will drink it. The reason I don’t know is that no one (for no one, read ‘Pepsi’) has told me. From the name I’m assuming it might even be an energy drink – Pepsi with added caffeine or taurine but until I see an ad that explains this I don’t have much to go on and can’t be bothered to check on Wikipedia.

Pepsi Max have taken a bus shelter and done something clever to it.

The cynic in me says that Pepsi’s ad agency saw the technique and decided  that it might work for Pepsi. It’s certainly entertaining but what does it tell me about the brand? If Pepsi Max was launching, we could say that it embraces the new, and we should look out for a new technique every time they advertise, but this isn’t a new brand. It reminds me a little of this Smirnoff ad from the 90s where objects viewed through the bottle appear different. Fine for a mind altering alcoholic drink, but a soft drink whose heartland has always been sport, energy and ‘extreme’ pursuits? Not sure.

I’m fine with non traditional advertising, but the clue is in the name – advertising. The most brilliant recent example of this is Red Bull Stratos – an energy drink whose tagline is ‘gives you wings’ and a guy jumping from the edge of space from a Red Bull branded balloon – near perfect.

The Pepsi Max stunt feels like yet another clever idea designed to garner Facebook likes and YouTube hits that may or may not increase Pepsi’s struggling sales, and another creative team ready to collect an award for a technique dreamed up by someone else.

In the meantime, we all wait for the Divine Judge to pronounce whether we should cling on to the traditions of telling people why a product is good, or resign ourselves to just grabbing some attention and ‘starting a conversation’. Ultimately, the public aren’t stupid, nor are our clients and if one isn’t buying and the other isn’t selling, we’re the ones who will be called to account.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: