- Pepsi is encouraging consumers to "break up" with Coke Zero Sugar in response to its rival's reformulation of the zero-sugar beverage and an accompanying ad campaign that asks if it's the "Best Coke Ever?," per details shared with Marketing Dive.
- Pepsi noticed backlash against the Coke Zero Sugar changes on social media, including comparisons to the brand's ill-fated New Coke shakeup in the '80s, and decided to move on an opportunity. Starting today, the PepsiCo label is asking frustrated Coke fans to post a photo of themselves on social media with Pepsi Zero Sugar and the hashtag #MyCokeBreakUp.
- The soda marketer will reimburse people the cost of a 20-ounce Pepsi Zero Sugar bottle, as well as dish out coupons for a 12-pack across major social media platforms. Pushing consumers to make the switch comes as Pepsi amps up adversarial messaging against its chief competitor and plots an ambitious marketing plan for Zero Sugar around the upcoming pro football season.
Pepsi is capitalizing on some negative social media chatter around the reformulated Coke Zero Sugar, which was unveiled earlier this summer and is supported by an extensive ad campaign that encourages people to "Try it first!" before rendering judgment. With the #MyCokeBreakUp effort, Pepsi summons comparisons to New Coke — one of the most notorious product launches in marketing history — while sending out freebies of its own take on zero-sugar cola.
Hey @CocaCola IT’S NOT YOU, IT’S ME— Pepsi (@pepsi) August 18, 2021
While you keep changing New Coke Zero, we’ll always be in good “taste”. #MyCokeBreakUp #NewCokeZero pic.twitter.com/awGXMTDMST
The move shows Pepsi using social listening and memes to move quickly and put a dent in its rival's reputation during a moment of potential vulnerability. Pepsi will dedicate much of its advertising around the upcoming NFL season to its zero-sugar variant, per the announcement, with more than a dozen new spots in the hopper. PepsiCo is an official NFL sponsor.
Pepsi Zero Sugar has factored more heavily into the brand's marketing as consumers make the switch to healthier beverage options. A campaign that debuted earlier this year across TV, digital and radio used data and voice-over narration to customize more than 70 pieces of creative for different occasions. "Zero Sugar, Zero Compromise" targeted men in their 30s and 40s who were moving to sugar-free soda and feeling stretched thin between work, family and pandemic living.
A shot across the bow at Coke Zero Sugar also builds on recent marketing plays where Pepsi has tried to shore up its reputation as a challenger brand. In May, the marketer claimed its soda paired better with burgers in ads referencing top U.S. fast food chains McDonald's, Wendy's and Burger King, all of which serve Coke products.
Pepsi now looks to steal some of Coke's thunder just as "Best Coke Ever?" ramps up. The ambitious Coke campaign, made with the help of agency Mercado McCann, covers a wide range of channels and activations, including a "Best of Harlem" block party scheduled for mid-September and sampling fridges that can be unlocked via QR codes.