As a member of the Pepsi Generation, and in the interest of full disclosure a former Pepsi employee, it saddened me to read in an Ad Age Daily report last week that for the first time Pepsi has now fallen to the number three spot in retail soft drink sales, behind Coke and Diet Coke.
I am completely neutral and non-partisan in the cola wars, but its sad to see iconic brands get off track.
And in a follow up Ad Age piece today an executive close to Pepsi commented about the different strategies taken by Coke and Pepsi by saying “One of them stayed the course and recognized that brand building is a long-term proposition. It built on its heritage, protected its brand and invested in its brand and its people. The other went into a tailspin, trying to reverse its fortunes overnight at any cost. It lost its best people, lost its continuity and, ultimately, lost its direction.”
Last week’s article points out that Pepsi sold 45 million fewer cases last year, and mentions that “Pepsi lost 0.4 share in 2010, falling to a 9.5% share of the category. Diet Coke controls a 9.9% share of the market, while brand Coke holds a 17% share.”
Naturally as an Ad Age piece, the article questions the recent elements of the brand’s marketing strategy including the recent Refresh Project. And they may have a point.
My view though is that the brand continues to suffer a more fundamental problem; namely the atrocious brand identity designed by Peter Arnell. Who in just a few short months, severely damaged the sales of some of PepsiCo’s biggest selling brands; most notably Tropicana, Gatorade, and Pepsi.
Normally a package design, especially for an iconic brand like Pepsi, serves as the long-term visual anchor for all brand communications. Its not complicated, right? But Arnell’s Pepsi anchor has been pulling the brand under rather than acting as a stabilizing influence.
Regrettably, just as they had to change the Tropicana and Gatorade work, I suspect we will be seeing some Pepsi updates within the year. This can’t be making the folks in Purchase happy.