Pepsi is taking a swipe at Coke's iconic polar bears with a summer ad campaign that also knocks its competitor's Share-a-Coke label program.
The ads, which debut today, mark an aggressive pivot for Pepsi, but not an unprecedented one. The cola giants have of course been battling for decades, but it has been a while since Pepsi tweaked Coke directly in its TV ads. One noticeable effort came in an ad that first ran in June of 2011 that showed Santa Claus rejecting a Coke for a Pepsi. (Santa has long been used in Coke ads.)
"We know that there are few things that grab our fans' attention as much as seeing our beloved blue and that red next to each other," Linda Lagos, Pepsi's brand marketing and digital director for Pepsi said. "It's done well for us in the past, and it's just something that we know works and that they love to see."
The new ads, by Motive, show Coke and Pepsi machines side-by-side and are meant to plug a new Pepsi loyalty program and app called Pepsi Pass that allows consumers to earn points and win prizes like concert tickets. One ad (above) shows a happy Pepsi drinker mocking a Coke buyer by telling him, "you've still got the polar bear." A rather scraggly-looking polar bear then sadly pets the Coke drinker.
The other spot (below) shows a female Pepsi drinker beside a female Coke drinker. The Coke buyer is dismayed by her purchase of a Coke bottle labeled with the name "Larry." The intent is to tweak Coke's "Share a Coke" summer campaign that splashes popular first names across packaging.
Pepsi's primary aim is to publicize the Pepsi Pass loyalty program that is expected to be supported year-round. The app is available on iOS and Android devices and allows consumers to earn points by entering and scanning codes on Pepsi products.
Ms. Lagos said the mobile-first approach comes as the brand hopes to reach consumers "in a way that is very native for them." The campaign, which Ms. Lagos described as a "real 360 program," will end Sept. 6.
Pepsi in a statement said it would give fans the chance to "win tickets to their choice of thousands of concerts, every hour." The program will also reward fans "for having fun, enabling fans to earn points by simply hanging out with their friends who also have the app." Prizes include trips to the summer music festivals, a "VIP experience at the MLB All-Star Game" and dining credits at Pepsi partner restaurants.
"Pepsi's goal every year is to be at the pulse of pop culture and bring fans closer to the musicians, athletes and experiences they love," Ms. Lagos said in a statement. "Nothing says summer like outdoor music festivals and live sporting events."
Contributing: Declan Harty