- Pepsi is promoting an unusual concoction for the holiday season with help from Lindsay Lohan, according to a news release.
- A new campaign encourages consumers to mix milk and Pepsi together to create “Pilk,” a so-called “dirty soda” that puts a spin on the milk and cookies traditionally left out for Santa Claus. The brand said the sweet-and-creamy drink category has gained traction over the years but recently went viral thanks to TikTok.
- In a 30-second ad, Santa secretly makes some Pilk for Lohan on Christmas Eve, which she enjoys in her pajamas by a cozy fire. Pepsi is also pushing a #PilkandCookies challenge offering cash rewards to people who post their homemade Pilk while following and tagging its social accounts through Dec. 25.
Pepsi sees an opportunity to align its brand with a beloved holiday tradition — leaving a plate of milk and cookies out for Santa — that doesn’t traditionally factor in soda. While Pilk may sound off-putting to some on paper, online interest in the beverage has trended upward thanks to TikTok virality, per the release. Pepsi has frequently turned to the video-sharing app when designing marketing that appeals to young consumer groups who are hard to reach via traditional media.
Pilk has actually been around for a while and typically comes with a creamer topping. Know Your Meme traces its origins in online memes to 2020 and its first appearance in pop culture back to the days “Laverne & Shirley.” The meme-tracking website also notes that the beverage combo is often “touted as a disgusting mixture.” But dirty sodas in a broad sense have an established history in the U.S. and experienced newfound popularity as social media makes once-niche or regional favorites mainstream.
Mixing soft drinks with dairy products or creamer is more common in Utah, where there is a heavy Mormon population that abstains from alcohol and “hot drinks” like coffee, according to Today. Celebrities like Olivia Rodrigo, who took off in part thanks to TikTok, have also been seen sporting the beverages, further stoking consumers’ curiosity.
Pepsi is enlisting some star power of its own to familiarize people with Pilk. The timing aligns with the release of Netflix's new Lohan vehicle "Falling for Christmas,” which features her singing a rendition of “Jingle Bell Rock.” The inclusion of the classic tune serves as a callback to a key scene from the 2004 film “Mean Girls,” which helped make the actor a household name. Pepsi could be trying to stoke some nostalgia for the iconic comedy, a tactic that’s been popular with marketers this holiday season.
For those at a loss on what to do with Pilk, Pepsi shared some recipe ideas that are more complex, including a Chocolate Extreme iteration that uses Pepsi Nitro instead of the brand’s core soda. Introduced earlier this year, Pepsi Nitro is a nitro-infused beverage that pours in a similar way to a Guinness beer and carries a creamier flavor profile. Pepsi has targeted the product at Gen Z.