In Argentina, Pepsi Becomes 'Pecsi'

Responding to Local Pronunciation, the Brand Changes Its Name

By Published on .

BUENOS AIRES (AdAge.com) -- When speaking Spanish, especially with an Argentine accent, people tend to say "Pecsi" instead of Pepsi. They have said it like this for years, and Pepsi has responded by launching a campaign changing the second P to a C, believed to be the first such change for the venerable brand.

Pecsi

"Pecsi" is an easier pronunciation given Spanish phonetics, and it sort of comes naturally. According to a recent survey, 25% of the population says it that way. So BBDO Argentina came up with the idea of simply making "Pecsi" the spelling and launched an integrated campaign to support it. The motive was clear: to get closer to consumers, by including those who weren't pronouncing the name of the brand correctly but also by focusing on saving and standing by consumers' sides in a time of crisis. In Argentina, drinking a Pepsi costs one peso less than drinking a Coke. The message: If you drink Pepsi, you save. If you drink Pecsi, you save as well.

The campaign was launched only a few weeks ago, and the anecdotal results are already strong. Even in the highest-class neighborhoods of Buenos Aires, such as Recoleta and Palermo, where the rules of the language and intonation are typically respected, you hear people ask for a Pecsi. The kids, for instance, have found an excuse to prefer Pepsi -- or, better yet, Pecsi -- by playing with the pronunciation.

The sharpness we are already used to seeing in Argentine advertising appears in the invitation to celebrate the "el libre albedrio pronunciativo" (the free will of pronunciation) or "la hermosa democracia pronunciatoria" (the beautiful democracy of pronunciation), as the spots proclaim. The star of the spots is the soccer coach "Mostaza" Merlo. Another commercial, "Waiters," gathers together those who mispronounce and those who don't. Here it is:

The campaign also includes a digital bet with the Pecsipedia, a free content wiki that, after launching with 50 initial definitions, already includes more than 1,300 words of Argentine slang such as mispronounced English words, words in English forced to fit Spanish and a few neologisms that were invented from scratch.

There is a Twitter feed and a YouTube channel and a website where you can make a Pecsi dance.

What's interesting about this is that far from making a superficial or arbitrary change, the brand actually found a key to how people feel the Pepsi brand in Argentina. And having found that, it didn't hesitate to make the move, because that's precisely what needed to be done in order to remain close to its consumers.

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