Super Bowl cola detente? Statues of Pepsi, Coke founders meet in Atlanta
- PepsiCo placed a statue of its founder Caleb Bradham beside a life-size bronze statue of Coca-Cola founder John Pemberton outside the World of Coca-Cola in downtown Atlanta, where Super Bowl pre-game events are being held, according to a report at Atlanta news site AJC. The statues were positioned as if they were about to clink glasses of their respective beverages.
- Pepsi, which is an NFL sponsor, tweeted a photo of the statues, thanking Coca-Cola for being a gracious host for the Super Bowl, which is taking place in the brand's hometown, and suggesting the brands call a temporary truce in what is referred to as the "cola wars," evoking Coke's Super Bowl campaign themed around togetherness. Pepsi also announced on Twitter that it is donating a meal through United Way to people in need in Atlanta every time someone posts with hashtags #ColaTruce and #Share2Donate.
- Coke didn’t seem to have been given notice of the stunt, but it played along with spokeswoman Kate Hartman replying, “We are going to welcome them with a Coke and a smile.” Later in the day, Pepsi noticed that the statue had been removed and tweeted at Coca-Cola that the action "didn't feel very #TogetherIsBeautiful.”
Pepsi is both calling for a truce in the cola wars while simultaneously provoking its chief rival Coke on its home turf by creating a stunt involving the latter's statue, a clear effort to attract attention ahead of the Super Bowl on Sunday. Pepsi has also reportedly blanketed Atlanta with out-of-home advertising, and Coke responded by opening a football-themed exhibit at its World of Coca-Cola and paying for free admission for a month at the nearby National Center for Civil and Human Rights. Pepsi marketing efforts around the Super Bowl also include an immersive “Planet Pepsi” party with rapper Travis Scott, multisensory experiences and game projection mapping.
Pepsi is also hosting the halftime show and using its Super Bowl commercial to highlight its rivalry with Coke and respond to the common question, “Is Pepsi OK?” which restaurant diners often hear when ordering Coke. In the spot, which will air during the game’s first quarter, actor Steve Carell tries to convince viewers that Pepsi is more than OK with the help of rappers Cardi B and Lil Jon.
Marketing stunts and “hackvertising,” where marketers hijack other brands’ marketing, is gaining popularity as a tactic. Consumers often enjoy a good rivalry and egging on good-natured banter with brands on social media. With the stunt and tweets directed at Coke, Pepsi is ribbing Coke’s togetherness-themed Super Bowl spot “A Coke Is a Coke,” which is set to air just before the game’s national anthem. Coke is also encouraging fans to share selfies on social media celebrating what makes them different and beautiful, and the brand will incorporate some of the images on its Instagram channel during the Super Bowl.