In Spain, Pepsi Becomes 'Pesi'

After Responding to Local Pronunciation of 'Pecsi' in Argentina, Campaign Goes to Europe

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BUENOS AIRES ( -- Pepsi-Cola's intriguing insight from Latin America that many Spanish speakers can pronounce the brand's name more easily and phonetically without that pesky second "P," has arrived in Spain. In a new commercial-within-a-commercial, hunky Spanish soccer star Fernando Torres gets fed up when the director keeps correcting the way he says "Pesi" on camera.

After the English-speaking director yells "Cut" through 189 takes, Mr. Torres rips the letter "P" from a Pepsi sign behind him and boldly tells the director that in his neighborhood, it's called "Pesi."

This approach was a big hit, although somewhat controversial, in Argentina last year when Pepsi humorously renamed the brand "Pecsi" in keeping with Argentine accents. Now Pepsi is parsing different Spanish accents, adopting the "Pesi" spelling in Spain without the Argentine "C."

In Argentina, the challenge for the brand's agency, BBDO, was to do a price comparison with Coca-Cola to emphasize Pepsi's lower price during the depths of the global economic crisis last year. The message was that in a tough economy, Pepsi costs one peso less than Coke, so you can either save money by drinking Pepsi, or save by drinking Pecsi.

"Changing Pepsi to Pecsi was a way of gaining closeness [to the consumer] and transcending a mere value message," said Ramiro Rodriguez Cohen, a BBDO Argentina creative director.

Pepsi also created a Pecsipedia for Argentine slang that more than 1,500 people contributed to.

"This campaign is based on a universal insight: Pepsi is pronounced in many different ways, as was reflected in the BBDO Argentina campaign," said a spokewoman for Pepsi's agency in Spain, Contrapunto BBDO.

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In Spain, the execution is different. In addition to the TV spot with Mr. Torres, Contrapunto BBDO also created a "making of" version that tells the whole narrative: Mr. Torres, a famous player who used to play for the Atletico Madrid soccer team, was hired to make a blockbuster Pepsi commercial, set in a space ship that's surrounded by monsters and princesses. But the story changes dramatically when he takes his linguistic stand and becomes a true hero, defending his neighborhood and the way people speak there.

Both videos are on the website (Spanish for "You say it like you say it"), which was created by Spanish agency La Despensa and attracted more than 200,000 visitors in the first two weeks.

Another video on the site introduces the Comando Pesi, a team charged with going first to Mr. Torres' neighborhood and then to other parts of Spain to see how they pronounce the soft drink's name and what other local expressions they use. Their local words and idioms will be added to the Real Pesipedia EspaƱola, which sounds like a spoof of the Real Academia EspaƱola, Spain's conservative body responsible for establishing the rules governing the usage of the Spanish language.

As in Argentina, the overall message in Spain is, "Do you say 'Pepsi' or 'Pesi'? If you say 'Pepsi,' it's correct. If you say 'Pesi,' it's even better. It doesn't matter how you say it, you are saving either way."

With all the buzz in Latin America about the Pecsi campaign, BBDO Argentina's Mr. Cohen said he's heard consumers in other Spanish-speaking countries like Mexico and Venezuela also have trouble with the standard pronunciation of Pepsi. "We are very proud that the success of the campaign in Argentina allows the concept to be applied in other parts of the world," he said.

A Pepsi spokesman at the company's New York headquarters said that other than Argentina and Spain, "There currently are no plans to use similar advertising in other Spanish-speaking markets."

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