Pepsi is a highly successful, world famous soft drink brand manufactured and marketed by PepsiCo. Besides the original carbonated drink, it currently has a large number of different variations and flavors including Diet Pepsi, Pepsi Max, etc., and holds just under 50 percent of the international soda market. Internationally recognized as being relatively similar to Coca Cola in taste, color, and constituency—essentially Coca Cola’s little brother—Pepsi has fought long and fierce wars with its primary competitor to shed this image, and to dominate the world’s soft drink market.
The Invention of Pepsi
Pepsi was first manufactured in 1898 in a small pharmacy in the town of New Bern, North Carolina. Originally named “Brad’s Drink,” it was created by a pharmacist named Caleb Bradham as a delicious carbonated soda that would both boost energy and assist digestion. It was marketed under that theme with the slogan “Delicious and Healthful” for the first 2 decades of its existence.
After its initial popularity, Bradham began to concentrate more on the mass-manufacturing of his drink, and less on his pharmacy. He came up with creative and innovative celebrity-based marketing campaigns such as its initial endorsement from early automobile racing pioneer Barney Oldfield, referring to the drink as “refreshing” and “invigorating.”
A Company in Crisis
Unfortunately, crisis loomed and just a few short years after it had gained national popularity, the Great Depression struck. Hundreds of thousands of businesses went bankrupt and PepsiCo was no exception. Its assets and copyrights were quickly snapped up by an enterprising businessman by the name of Roy C. Megargel, but only 8 years later PepsiCo found itself once again filing for bankruptcy.
This time the company was bought up by a candy manufacturer named Charles Guth, the President of Loft Inc. Guth had been dissatisfied with Coca Cola’s refusal to give his company special treatment and wanted to replace the Coke in his company’s drinking fountains with something newer (and cheaper). Chemists from Loth Inc. were assigned to alter and improve the syrup formula for Pepsi, in hopes of coming up with something that would catch on a larger scale.
What did catch was the new price. With the Great Depression still in full swing, Pepsi began to offer a 12 ounce bottle of soda for only 5 cents—half of what their biggest competitor, Coke, was asking. Sales shot through the roof. With a catchy marketing campaign and a mass appeal towards the economically distraught, convalescing American people, Pepsi managed to make a name for itself once again in the rapidly expanding soda market, doubling its profits in 2 short years.
In the 1940’s, Pepsi began to see the value of niche marketing, one of the first major corporations to do so. Noticing that most advertising campaigns were directed primarily towards a general audience, Pepsi began to design its advertising to target ethnic minorities outside the general population status quo, principally African Americans.
An all black advertising team was hired and began publishing advertisements that portrayed African Americans in a positive light—a radical idea at the time—and, of course, loving Pepsi. Although opposition arose from then still prominent racist movements such as the Ku Klux Klan, Pepsi’s market share rose dramatically in relation to Coke’s, which had been slower to jump on the anti-racism bandwagon. For perhaps the first time in its history, Pepsi began to be seen as a serious player in the fountain drink market.
The Secret Formula
Due to its various bankruptcies at the time of the Great Depression, there is no secret as to the original ingredients of Pepsi. Together with other crucial company documents, the recipe was filed with the bankruptcy court during the company’s first collapse, and has been a matter of public record for nearly a century. It comes as a surprise to many that this original recipe for Pepsi-Cola contains neither caffeine nor cola.
90 percent of the soft drink content is carbonated water. It is sweetened with high fructose corn syrup and sugar, colored with caramel, and flavored with citric acid, among other natural flavors. Many current versions of Pepsi today contain caffeine.
Possibly Pepsi-Cola’s most successful and well known marketing campaign ever was the Pepsi Challenge. Sponsored by PepsiCo, this challenge was a direct throw down of the gauntlet to its age old competitor Coca-Cola in the form of a blind tasting of the 2 soft drinks. Advertisers for Pepsi took a great risk in hiring researchers to conduct tastings all around the country of both Pepsi and Coke in simple glasses, and subjects were asked with zero bias to indicate which of the unmarked drinks tasted better to them.
Much to the relief of this risky marketing campaign, the majority of subjects picked Pepsi. Regardless of the relatively slight margin of favor, great advantage was taken of the success of this campaign. It resulted in a mass publishing of highly memorable television and newspaper commercials announcing these marginally scientific results to the public. This ad campaign has gone down in history as being one of the most successful promotions of a product ever.
Pepsi’s next widely successful marketing campaign involved trading bottle caps and other proofs of purchase of Pepsi products for Pepsi themed memorabilia, or Pepsi Stuff. This promotion is widely acknowledged to have grossly outperformed then current Coke campaigns, according to some sources by 2 or 3 times over. The Pepsi Stuff campaign successfully spanned the 1990’s with countless celebrity endorsements, and evolved into the 2000’s, expanding beyond the original point system to include not only memorabilia but also gift certificates for iTunes or Amazon online stores.
Current Pepsi slogans and ad campaigns focus on a slightly rebellious “refresh everything” theme. As a play on words juggling between “refreshment” as referring to a beverage and “refresh” as a synonym for change or restart, the term is also highly current and recognizable as a part of the modern, computer generation themed lingo. As stated on their website, a part of Pepsi’s Refresh Project is offering monetary grants to help fund “ideas that will refresh the world.”
Although the Pepsi Stuff campaign was discontinued in 2008, it has been reincarnated in the present day in various forms, although under different names. There is a free application for the iPhone, which wins the user free music through consumption of Pepsi products. There are specially marked cans of Pepsi’s Cherry Goodness sub-brand, marketed to hypothetically win the consumer up to $5,000 dollars. There is also a special promotion consisting of trading matching caps from Pepsi bottles for an officially licensed MLB team cap, of your choice of team.
Coupons for Pepsi products can easily be found, both off and online, and are a great way to save on the purchase of these products. Many grocery stores have their own websites where they publish printable coupons for products bought in their store. Search online for the grocery store you shop at, and see if they are currently offering any coupons for Pepsi products.
A recently popular avenue for finding coupons has arisen through websites entirely dedicated to grocery coupons. Generally very easily accessible, these websites have searchable databases of all their coupons, as well as links to their most viewed products on the front page. Select Pepsi, print out the coupons and take them to your local Pepsi sales outlet.
Many coupons for Pepsi products can also be found in your local newspaper as well as a large variety of national and international magazines.