New Cola War Breaks Out

Discussion
Jul 21, 2010
George Anderson

By George Anderson

It’s been a long time, but Coke and Pepsi are back at it
again. The cola wars, this time with a zero calorie angle, are on.

Pepsi has
sparked the new conflict with the release of its “Diner” commercial
showing a driver for Coca-Cola drinking Pepsi MAX instead of Coke Zero.

“Doesn’t a fight require two sides? As far as we can tell, the two drivers
in this ad may be the only remaining Pepsi MAX drinkers,” Coca-Cola North
America spokesperson Scott Williamson told The Associated Press.

Coca-Cola
may not be willing to fight with Pepsi on this one as its Coke Zero has sales
roughly five times its much smaller rival.

“We think now is the time to start banging on the drum, on the fact that
we believe we have a great tasting, zero-calorie soda and we’re ready to take
on the competition,” Pepsi spokesperson Melisa Tezanos told the AP. “

Lauren
Hobart, chief marketing officer of the sparkling brands division of PepsiCo,
told The New York Times, “People love the cola wars.
People identify themselves in many cases as ‘I’m a Pepsi person’ or ‘I’m
a Coke person.’ The rivalry is just a very integral part of our heritage
for both Pepsi and Coke.”

Discussion Questions: Will Coke and/or Pepsi benefit from a new cola war?
Who won the previous one?

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10 Comments on "New Cola War Breaks Out"


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Al McClain
Guest
Al McClain
10 years 9 months ago

Great ad and I can’t see what they have to lose. Smaller brand takes on big brand head on and probably grabs a bit of market share for their effort.

Peter Fader
Guest
10 years 9 months ago

This new “war” won’t help Coke or Pepsi in their head-to-head battle, but it will help Coke AND Pepsi, i.e., it will continue to crowd out any awareness/preference for the myriad other soft drinks that can’t shout as loud as these two giants.

These campaigns are all about maintaining the status quo–and they do it quite well.

Dan Berthiaume
Guest
Dan Berthiaume
10 years 9 months ago

I think Pepsi has effectively been winning the Cola Wars since 1985 when Coca-cola felt the need to alter its formula to taste more like Pepsi–the infamous “New Coke” debacle. Pepsi knows it will never be number one, but this kind of public competition helps enshrine it as a solid number two.

Steve Montgomery
Guest
10 years 9 months ago

The sales of carbonated soft drinks have been declining for some time as consumers sought alternatives. A new cola war may generate additional buzz and slow the trend for the category. As they say “A rising tide raises all boats.

Gene Hoffman
Guest
Gene Hoffman
10 years 9 months ago

What do cola wars do? They create temporary lower prices and lots of promotional “warfare” advertising. Coke and Pepsi devotees like that. It makes soda buying seem a little more exciting. So cola wars are frequently re-created. It’s a marketing déjà vu.

But with due difference to Lauren Hobart’s claim that cola wars are are a vital part of Coke’s and Pepsi’s heritage, it could seem more like an ancient marketing illusion, perhaps disillusion. Nonetheless, let the cola cannons fire away.

Carol Spieckerman
Guest
10 years 9 months ago

Cola war? Yawn, snore.

Anne Bieler
Guest
Anne Bieler
10 years 9 months ago

I agree that the “cola wars” are a marketing initiative, with a possible short-term lift for the category. Pepsi will continue to work on positioning, gaining share, but in a continuously shifting and declining market, it will take a sustained effort to keep it. After all these years, Avis is still a strong number 2 alternative with loyal customers–Pepsi can maintain a solid second position with the right approach for its key consumers.

James Tenser
Guest
10 years 9 months ago

I’ll concede I harbor a twinge of nostalgia for the old cola wars. But minute examination of TV advertising creative seems a bit quaint these days too. Brand equity is hotly pursued in social and mobile media; while every smart shopper/marketer today knows the game is won or lost in store-level distribution. For many diet cola drinkers, their favorite brand is the one on deal that week.

Gene Detroyer
Guest
10 years 9 months ago

This is comparative advertising with fun. But, the one thing you must do when you initiate comparative advertising is be sure you win the comparison when the consumer bites. Otherwise, you are pouring water in a leaky bucket and wasting a lot of money for a one-time purchase.

Assuming Pepsi knows what they are doing and they will win a comparison, the huge win is to draw Coke into the battle and find that Coke’s media spending is including a can of Pepsi.

However, Coke has rarely bitten at such challenges and it is almost never in the interest of the market leader to respond in kind.

Ed Rosenbaum
Guest
10 years 9 months ago

The “cola wars” commercials might just be the third in a long line of successful ongoing ads behind the Mean Joe Greene original and the Budweiser Clydesdales.
There is no loser here. Each side will gain more sales while hopefully not losing much in the trade offs of changing sodas by the customers. Certainly the viewing public is going to get enjoyment watching as well as tasting. And the social media piece will be there for more postings on YouTube. I am looking forward to more of these.

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