Diet Pepsi Prepping Major Campaign, Rolling Out New Sweetener

Looks to Steal Back Market Share With 'Love Every Sip' Effort

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Diet Pepsi is prepping a major campaign and rolling out a new sweetener blend, in an effort to take back its fair share of the diet soft-drink category.

The new campaign, which was shot this past weekend and is slated for a mid-January debut, will introduce the tagline, "Love Every Sip." The launch spot will feature Modern Family actress Sofia Vergara, who has appeared in ads since early 2011.

As part of the campaign a limited-time design featuring a heart will grace packaging from late January through the end of March, encompassing Valentine's Day.

The campaign also coincides with a sweetener change that is meant to keep the drink's sweetness at a constant level, making it taste fresh longer. The flavor will not change and the new sweetener blend won't be touted in the new ad, said Andrea Foote, a PepsiCo spokeswoman. But the tagline and sweetener update are all part of an overall refresh for the brand, which has been lagging rivals.

In 2011, Diet Pepsi ranked as the seventh largest carbonated soft drink, according to Beverage Digest. It shed 0.4% share and 8.2% volume-more than any other soft drink brand in the top 10.

"We're looking at this almost as a relaunch for the product, with a renewed emphasis on diet, in general," Ms. Foote said, noting the trend toward low or no-calorie options across the industry. "We feel, to a certain extent, that we need to get our fair share of the diet segment back."

In recent years, PepsiCo has neglected its third-largest soft drink brand-Pepsi and Mtn Dew are both larger-with measured media spend for dedicated Diet Pepsi ads plummeting. Though the brand did appear in trademark advertising, less than $500,000 was spent on dedicated measured media in 2008, 2009 and 2010-combined.

That all changed last year with measured media soaring to $38 million. In the first three quarters of 2012, Diet Pepsi spent $35 million. Early this year PepsiCo committed to invest an additional $500 million to $600 million to advertise its brands this year, with a focus on North America.

Ms. Foote noted the media weight for 2013 will be slightly higher than 2012. TBWA/Chiat/Day handles creative for the brand.

"The last several years there hadn't been a lot of weight around diet," Ms. Foote said. "We need to start talking to those loyal consumers again, reminding other consumers about the category and getting them to give it a try."

Ms. Foote says the new sweetener blend-which is already used in Diet Pepsi Wild Cherry and Diet Pepsi Vanilla-will improve the taste quality experience. The taste on the first day the product is bottled or canned will be the same three or four weeks later, she said.

Diet Pepsi products now hitting shelves include a mix of aspartame and acesulfame potassium, or ace-K. The updated beverage is expected to be available nationwide by mid-February.

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