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Pepsi’s Marketing Overhaul & the Future of Sugary Soft Drinks

Pepsi’s Marketing Overhaul & the Future of Sugary Soft Drinks

Pepsi rolls out a new marketing campaign in more than 100 global markets, which includes a new tagline and can design.(PRNewsfoto/PepsiCo)

Pepsi is saying farewell to its global tagline, “Live for now,” in favor of “For the Love of It”—a new campaign that includes a jingle by the Simon Fuller-backed international pop group Now United. This marks the first major overhaul for the brand in seven years, when the “Live for now” campaign debuted with an ad starring Nicki Minaj. Notably, the campaign also hit a low point in 2017 with the release of the infamous ad starring Kendall Jenner that was widely criticized and quickly pulled.

The new “For the Love of It” ads also incorporate music and entertainment, but this time keep a clear focus on the cola drink, with extreme close-ups consistent throughout the videos.

“We are confidently celebrating who we are – an iconic brand rooted in entertainment with a refreshing and delicious beverage people around the world love – as well as who our fellow cola lovers are,” said Roberto Rios, senior vice president, Marketing, Global Beverage Group, PepsiCo.

Members of Now United appear in one of the new Pepsi ads that features their new jingle. The international pop group, which features 14 singers and dancers from 14 countries, have millions of followers on social media. Pepsi said it will also create special experiences and content around Now United’s worldwide tour, according to a company press release.

“For the love of it is our rallying cry, proudly saying to go all in for the things you love – from passions and interests like football and music, to unabashedly enjoying one of life’s favorite treats – Pepsi,” said Rios.

The new ad is reminiscent of a 1985 ad featuring Michael Jackson which shows kids guzzling the soft drink and dancing in the street. This approach is likely an attempt to connect with Generation Z, as young consumers are traditionally a key demographic for soft drinks.

This group also presents a challenge for the company, with a higher percentage of young people holding unfavorable opinions of sugary beverages. According to a 2018 report compiled by Mintel, 25 percent of teens aged 15 to 17 say they worry about staying healthy and nearly half (49 percent) believe that drinking sodas is not healthy.  At the same time governments are also exploring measures like the sugar tax, package warnings and marketing restrictions to reduce sugar consumption.

Before stepping down as PepsiCo CEO last year, Inda Nooyi oversaw the company through this turbulent time in the industry. Under her leadership, PepsiCo grew its portfolio of “Good for You” and “Better for You” options from about 38 percent of revenue in 2006 to roughly 50 percent in 2017. The company also almost tripled its investments in research and development to expand its more nutritious offerings while minimizing its environmental impact, according to a release from the company.

At the same time, big brands like Pepsi and Coca-Cola are experiencing a transition from decades of marketing dominance, to an era where smaller brands can make a large impact via social media. For example, Coca-Cola made a large investment into Dirty Lemon last month, which is a brand that gained its cult following largely via Instagram.

In response, Pepsi’s new cross-platform marketing campaign is being received as a defense of the brand’s classic identity, with a more streamlined emphasis on what makes its products iconic. The “For the Love of It” campaign will get a big push globally, appearing in new ads in more than 100 countries. However, the ads won’t run in the United States, where the company is taking a marketing approach devoid of taglines.