While preparing for the upcoming Poultry Expo in Atlanta — which is home to the Coca Cola headquarters — I came across several articles about the "Cola Wars."
The "Cola War," a play off of the "Cold War," is an ongoing state of competition between the two beverage superpowers — Coca-Cola and PepsiCo. Similar to the Cold War, the Cola Wars are characterized by high spending, competitive developments and much propaganda.
Both Coke and Pepsi are currently in the midst of new ad campaigns, complete with new slogans; and interestingly enough, both campaigns are very similar.
Given the current economic climate, and the fact that soft drink sales are declining, embarking on unique new ad campaigns — especially for companies that typically spend hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. advertising alone each year — is a risky endeavor.
But high stakes don't appear to be bothering Coke or Pepsi one bit.
Coca-Cola's new slogan, "Open happiness," has big shoes to fill, as Coke has produced some of the most memorable ads and slogans in the history of advertising. (Recall: "I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke" from the 70's or "Always Coca Cola" from the early 90's.)
Pepsi is going with the new tagline, "Every Generation Refreshes the World."
Both campaigns share the common goal of attempting to uplift spirits in tough economic times. Consumers longing for comfort and happiness need look no further than a can of soda. Quite honestly, my initial reaction is to think that consumers reach for a different type of beverage when times are tough — something a little stronger than soda — however a bottle of soda has become just as iconic and American as apple pie and baseball.
But can soda really make you forget your economic woes?
Successful marketing in hinged upon the emotional state of consumers, as well as current events. Our nation is in the midst of a very trying, yet unique time — as a new president takes the reigns of a nation in dire need of hope, inspiration and new ideas.
Pepsi has cleverly played directly on the new presidency, launching the RefreshEverything.com website called "Dear Mr. President." The site allows people to upload video messages to President Obama, all of which will be compiled and edited in the form of an open letter to the president. The site hosts messages from everyone from celebrities to animated talking cows.
Time will tell if the new campaigns are a success — and if soda manages to lift the spirits of America. But at the very least, this proves that the American mindset of steadfast competitiveness is still alive and well.