Spoils of War


War on the Colas

During the time when the Coca-Cola Company was globalizing their product all over the world, PepsiCo – the merger company with its namesake product Pepsi was just starting to storm the markets and claim a small piece of pie from the giant company. Although just following baby footsteps, Pepsi has proven itself to be a worthy competitor of the Coke brand.

The Cola wars are a series of mutually-targeted television advertisements and marketing campaigns since the 1980s, between two long-time rival soft drink producers, The Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo. The battle between the two dominant brands in the United States intensified to such an extent that the term “Cola wars” was used to describe the feud. Each employed numerous advertising and marketing campaigns to outdo the other.

These skirmishes between Coca-Cola and PepsiCo ran long until the present, and so will it also in this blog.

PepsiCo – What’s with the Print Ad?

The Print Ad is one of PepsiCo’s indirect responses to Coca-Cola’s own advertisements and commercials.

Coca-Cola advertising has historically focused on wholesomeness and nostalgia for childhood. Coca-Cola advertising is often characterized as “family-friendly” and often relies on “cute” characters (e.g., the Coca-Cola polar bear mascot and Santa Claus around Christmas).

I said indirect because as the Cola wars finally came to an end you can still see the effects of it to the two companies involved. They have become more engaged against each other after the cola wars using all kinds of marketing techniques. Although the war has ceded, it can’t really be avoided that there are the underlying comparison and an effort to undermine the other competing brand to each of the company’s advertisements.

The Print Ad itself – Forever Young?

In the format of a printable advertisement, the message in the print ad had to be expressed in creative manners mainly because of the fact that they are undermining the other guys’ (Coca-Cola) product and second because it is a print ad, it has to appeal to an audience within its limited borders.

Let’s talk about the first thing that we have to pinpoint in the ad, its framing. The ad in all its limitations is still able to express the message in limitless ways through creative techniques. One of them is how well do the ad frame an idea so much that it emphasizes on that only, regardless of any omitted point of views.

First of all, the ad emphasizes or illustrates the idea of the basic human need of fun and/or entertainment. The ad literally on the surface depicts a middle aged businessman having fun on his drink as he blows bubbles in it.

Applying marketing techniques (as I’ve said – undermining the other guys’ product), the most dominant one in the ad is the values association, which depicts something like of nonconformity towards the norm. This is portrayed when a businessman which is usually known to be very serious and pragmatic in society is seen to be having fun when drinking Pepsi.

The image of a conservatively well-dressed man contrasting with the overflowing, bubbly drink catches one’s attention. The focus is then directed to the caption at the bottom right hand corner and you can’t help but smile at the thought that no matter how old you get, you can still have fun in life. It’s all a state of mind.

This kind of marketing technique is similar to the priming effect of media. Media materials prime their audiences into thinking of associating the product they are advertising to a value that is very appealing to the masses.

A Race for the Audiences’ Attention

Since Coca-Cola advertising has historically focused on wholesomeness and nostalgia for childhood.  PepsiCo created its media content primarily on fun, modernity, and breaking social norms.

These broad ideas appeal to certain kinds of audiences, for one Coca-cola appeal more to teens and senior citizens while Pepsis’ target audience is the working adults and young adults.

The Forever Young Ad is specified towards the adults as the target audience specifically the working ones. This is because it carries the message that it is still fun regardless of age or circumstances in life.

They contrast the stigma that working adults are very boring and serious in life and they do nothing but work very sternly. The unintended audiences are those who are still finding jobs which are the young adults and everybody else.

I focused on the young adults more as the unintended audience because they are forming perceptions of what they think their lives will be when they start working. The ad might have an influence on them by the message that it will still be fun even if you are working already.

What the Ad doesn’t say – Am I not growing old?

Although the message “Forever Young” is being pushed by the Print Ad, it can be said that the spirit of that message is that you can still be internally young – at heart, regardless of your age.

Although it’s a wonderful thought, some people might find it very unpragmatic and very childish in such a way it does not address properly the reality in life. The idea of nonconformity, which is being represented, is bold, to say the least.

However, it fails to acknowledge the idea or the point of view that reality is not that easy that you can just easily dismiss using a cover of an idea of being “Forever Young”. The concept or idea of maturity is then being omitted in the reality as to how the print ad presents its ideas.

Why Forever Young, Pepsi?

In realization to the aforementioned information above, two possible purposes arise as to why the print ad was made.

First is, of course, because of the direct competition with the other company selling the same product. Second is that they are trying to appeal to an audience that actually is the workforce and so are earning members in the society.

These will then appeal to them and so might compel them to buy the product as they are actually more than capable of buying such since they are earning money.

They have associated working adults and businessmen to the idea that they can actually have fun despite their age when they are purchasing and consuming their product. They also made the print ad to break a social stigma by making it look like businessmen acting like a kid when they are drinking Pepsi.

These then rake in the profit for the PepsiCo when these target audiences start purchasing these products under the influence of these media effects.

 > Kim Bhasin (January 1, 2013). “COKE VS. PEPSI: The Story Behind The Neverending ‘Cola Wars'”. Business Insider. Retrieved July 29, 2017.
 >  “Brands”. The Coca-Cola Company. Retrieved 2017-07-29.
 >  “PepsiCo Corporate Site”. PepsiCo.com. Retrieved 2017-07-29.

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