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'Breathtaking' Is One Word for Purported Arnell Pepsi Doc

Mad Ave Buzzing About the Deep Thinking That Supposedly Went Into Brand Logo Redesign

By Published on . 28

NEW YORK (Adage.com) -- Over the past 24 hours, adland has been abuzz about "Breathtaking," a 27-page document purported to be the thinking behind Arnell Group's recent revamping of Pepsi-Cola's logo. Littered as it is with marketing jargon, images of yin-yangs, mobius strips and Da Vinci's Vitruvian man, you'll maybe wonder whether Michael Phelps wasn't the only one hitting that bong.

Pepsi - Breathtaking Design StrategyClick for PDF
See the 27-page document purported to be the thinking behind Arnell Group's recent revamping of Pepsi's logo.

"Breathtaking" theorizes consumers will feel a gravitational pull elicited by the new logo, one that will lead consumers to fill its shopping carts with Pepsi. At its most extreme, the presentation compares the reimagined Pepsi globe logo to the Earth's magnetic fields and the sun's radiation. "Emotive forces shape the gestalt of the brand identity," it muses.

Um, ok.

Some have suggested the document an internet hoax, or even a viral-marketing campaign from Arnell Group, the Omnicom Group agency that's led by Peter Arnell, the design guru who has had his hands all over brands from Chrysler to Home Depot and, recently, Tropicana.

But there is no shortage of ego for Mr. Arnell. Consider this is the same person who just last month compared a 3-D Super Bowl spot created by his agency to as historic a moment as Thomas Edison's invention of motion pictures. Of course, then there's this:

"When I did the Pepsi logo, I told Pepsi that I wanted to go to Asia, to China and Japan, for a month and tuck myself away and just design it and study it and create it," Mr. Arnell said earlier to Ad Age. "There was a lot of research, a lot of consumer data points ... and dialogue that I had with the folks at Pepsi, consumers and retailers. We knew what we were doing."

So what does such a "breathtaking" redesign cost, anyway? Ad Age earlier reported that experts estimate the cost for a top firm to work five months at north of $1 million. But that's just the beginning. The real cost, said an expert, is in removing the old logo everywhere it appears and putting new material up. When you add up all the trucks, vending machines, stadium signage, point-of-sale materials and more around the world, it could easily tally several hundred million dollars, the expert said.

Merely months old, Pepsi's new logo is no stranger to ridicule. It has already taken knocks for it's striking resemblance to President Barack Obama's campaign logo. Parent PepsiCo, meanwhile, is standing by its agency. Nicole Bradley, a spokeswoman for the beverage giant, declined to comment on the authenticity of the documents or on the online ridicule they've inspired. But she did voice continued support for Arnell Group's creation.

"We're very happy with the look of the logo," she said in a statement. "The new design and our packaging have a clean, contemporary look that has been very well received by our consumers."

Mr. Arnell didn't immediately respond to calls for comment.

The marketing world is, of course, more than used to attempts to associate things like sugary water to higher concepts. Some say this goes too far, but perhaps it had to.

"It goes way beyond reasonable. ... It's preposterous and extreme, and kinda layered with bullshit," said Charles Rosen, founding partner of New York ad agency Amalgamated. "But I understand the reason they went as far as they did with it.

"If you're talking to a company like Pepsi about the redo of their logo, which is one of the most powerful icons in America, I can only imagine the layers of bureaucracy that you'd have to get through to sell in a new logo," Mr. Rosen said. "Getting an ad through a company like Pepsi is next to impossible, this was probably a 100 times that. ... Anyone who has ever spent any time in the halls of Pepsi would sympathize with Peter."

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Contributing: Natalie Zmuda

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