New Sweetener, New Campaign For Diet Pepsi

Everywhere you look over the past 10 days or so, it seems like somebody has a beat on something evolving at PepsiCo. The latest is a widely used piece this morning by the Associated Press’ Candace Choi about the company adding an artificial sweetener -- acesulfame potassium -- to Diet Pepsi to help with its shelf stability. Diet Pepsi is also slated for a rebranding campaign next month.

In early November, PepsiCo registered the trademark “Love Every Sip,” according to Trademarkia.com, and that will be the tagline for a major new campaign breaking in January, a company spokesperson tells Choi. A new logo will include a heart.

“The sweetener change will not be explicitly communicated in the ads,” Choi writes. It has already been added to product distributed in cities such as New York, Omaha and the San Francisco Bay area. It does not change the flavor, Beverage Digest editor and publisher John Sicher tells Choi, and is being mixed with the aspartame already used in the U.S. market.

In a statement, PepsiCo says it is adding a "very small amount" of acesulfame potassium "to ensure consistency with every sip," Choi reports. “The sweeteners used in Diet Pepsi vary depending on the region of the world.”

The New York Times’ Ben Sisario recently broke the news that Pepsi and its longtime endorser, Beyoncé, had agreed on a new multiyear, worldwide campaign, estimated to be worth $50 million, that will go far beyond traditional advertising campaigns.

“The less conventional aspects of the deal are meant as collaborative projects that indulge Beyoncé’s creative whims, and might well have no explicit connection to Pepsi products,” Sisario writes. “They are still at the brainstorm stage, but could include live events, videos, ‘a cool photo shoot’ or almost anything else, said Lee Anne Callahan-Longo, the general manager of Parkwood Entertainment, Beyoncé’s company.”

Not that the tried-and-true will be abandoned. Beyoncé will be the featured performer at the Super Bowl halftime show on Feb. 3, which is sponsored by Pepsi, and she also will be appearing in a new TV ad -- her fifth for the soft drink since 2002 -– early next year.

In other news, a Pepsi MAX spot was the second-most watched advertisement on You Tube last year, out-viewed only by Nike Football’s “My Time Is Now,” Tim Nudd reports in Adweek. Pepsi’s "Uncle Drew" spot features Cleveland Cavaliers’ Kyrie Irving, who won the NBA Rookie of the Year Award in 2012.

“Pepsi MAX went to a pick-up game in Bloomfield, N.J., pretending to shoot a documentary on a basketball player named ‘Kevin,’” reads the blurb for the spot, which has garnered more than 18 million views since its release in May. “When his Uncle Drew came into the game, some magical things happened.” 

Uncle Drew: Chapter 2,” which went up on Oct. 30, already has nearly 5 million views.

Ad Age’s Angela Doland, meanwhile, had a story last week about a curious blending of two distinctive tastes in Pepsi-Cola chicken-flavor Lay's potato chips. But don’t head out to the local Walmart to pick up a few bags –- unless you’re in Beijing or environs. The product is only available in China -- at least for now.

“Cola chicken is a common recipe in China, with chicken wings tossed into a wok and caramelized in soy sauce, spices and cola,” explains Doland. “In potato-chip form, the flavor is vaguely similar to barbecue with a sugary aftertaste. If there's any hint of Pepsi, it's fleeting and lacks fizz.”

SF Gate’s Victoria Nguyen is one observer of the passing news who is not particularly jazzed by the rebranding of Diet Pepsi. “Personally, I’d rather try their new Chicken-and-Pepsi flavored Lay’s chips,” she writes.

If nothing else, combining Lays and Pepsi certainly plays into PepsiCo’s re-found emphasis on its flagship brands.

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