Pepsi's New '1893' Soda Further Blurs Booze, Soda Marketing

Debut Spot Starts a Sommelier Amid a Backdrop of Wine Barrels

Published On
Apr 06, 2016

Editor's Pick

The line between soda and booze marketing is getting about as blurry as a Sunday morning hangover. Witness the debut ad for Pepsi's new 1893 premium soda brand, which uses a sommelier character who peddles the beverage like a fine whiskey or wine.

The ad is meant to be humorous. But it underscores a serious marketing strategy by PepsiCo, which is trying tap into the mixology trend. The cola is made from kola nut extract, "real sugar" and sparkling water, with a touch of "aromatic bitters." A ginger cola version includes "real ginger." If it sounds like something that would go well with whiskey, that is kind of the point.

Soda and booze have long been mixed, of course, but brands have not always talked about it openly, or used alcohol imagery in ads.

"We were inspired by the mixology craze," said Chad Stubbs, VP of marketing for the Pepsi trademark. "We absolutely see this as a perfect standalone beverage or a perfect complement to cocktails."

The launch, which was officially announced last week, comes as beer marketers borrow from the soda playbook with a range of new pop-like flavored hard sodas.

The new brand is officially called "1893 from the makers of Pepsi-Cola." The first TV ad stars actor Jeff Galfer in the role of a sommelier. He swirls and smells the soda amid a backdrop of wooden barrels, before he loses his couth and chugs a couple glasses of the stuff. A voiceover describes the beverage as "boldly blended cola."

The agency is Pitch, which beat out other Pepsi roster agencies for the launch ad, Mr. Stubbs said. He declined to reveal details around the media investment, but said the spot would run during prime time, on cable and in late night. It will also get significant digital backing, he said.

Read more about the campaign over at