PepsiCo Wants To Wake Up America With Diet Pepsi MAX

by , Jun 26, 2007, 5:00 AM
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PepsiCo wants to wake up America, and hopes to do it with Diet Pepsi MAX, a juiced-up version of the soda with ginseng and more caffeine.

The company is targeting people who suffer from a mid-day slump with the effort for the new version of Diet Pepsi. Ads via BBDO, New York, focus on that emblem of mid-afternoon cubicle ennui: the yawn.

TV spots broke yesterday in 15- and 30-second versions and use the tagline, "Wake up, people." The idea is that the new caffeine-enhanced diet soda can stop the yawn.

The effort includes a new Web site, www.WakeUpPeople.com, with a spoof telethon it calls a "yawn-a-thon." The site, by Tribal DDB, lets people send a wake-up call to others in the voice of comic Ben Stein.

Pepsi spokesperson Michelle Naughton says the new version of Diet Pepsi is aimed at time-starved 24- to-34-year-olds who already drink diet soft drinks, as well as "transitioners" making the switch to diet drinks.

In addition to national TV and radio, the Purchase, N.Y. company has a billboard touting the product in New York's Times Square, and in Hollywood and Highlands in LA.

Between July and September, Naughton says, the company will offer samples at more than 100 "Wake Up Stations" at high-traffic locations in major markets.

Gerry Khermouch, editor of Beverage Business Insights, said colas and juice-based energy drinks have been making inroads for years against coffee, particularly as a morning drink. But Pepsi may not have the same success trying to do the same against energy drinks, he said.

"Energy and cola seem to be two distinct segments, and attempts by both sides to cross over to the other haven't been that successful," he says.

Conversely, he says, energy drinks have not had success with cola-based versions.

"People going to energy drinks are repudiating colas, and, among the majors, whenever they try to do these hybrids -- whether Vault, or Coca-Cola Black (a hybrid Coke/coffee) -- they don't seem to get that much traction, because consumers are gravitating to energy drinks."

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