Pepsi Continues Using Advertising For Turnaround Efforts

Pepsi and Coke talk about reaching young people through music and sports. So, it’s no shocker that Pepsi is melding the two in a new campaign, which is running on music and sports programming.

A new iteration of its “Live For Now” effort features boy band One Direction and New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees in a spot that debuted on “The X Factor” last week and is also teed up for the World Series. (Sounds like Fox might make out OK.)

Of course, no TV sales executive ever roots for a major marketer to struggle. Not a chance. How ruthless and unseemly.

There’s just no way they’ve been happy that Pepsi’s recent troubles have spurred it to spend like crazy trying to generate a turnaround. Surely, they've felt for Pepsi as it has dealt with the indignity of Diet Coke overtaking it to become the number-two soft drink in the U.S.. which seems to have been a huge wake-up call leading to some of the advertising caffeination.



How could sales executives be anything but gloomy with PepsiCo.’s earnings call this week, where the company spoke in some detail about how its advertising is working and more is coming?

(Surely, they were disspirited with comments that not only Pepsi has issues, but Gatorade is having its share of trouble, too. How subdued they must have been when a top executive said a new campaign for the sports drink with the NFL player known as RG3 could be a winner.)

Of the company’s new ad push, covering Pepsi and other brands, CEO Indra Nooyi said: “We are seeing positive results already, but as we've mentioned in the past, these investments typically take a year to fully take hold. We are six to eight months into the program and I'm pleased with our steady improvement in brand-building initiatives.”

No one at any network carrying the NFL could have taken any satisfaction with Nooyi’s lengthy rundown about how the company’s affiliation with the league continues to effective and her excitement about the new Pepsi Super Bowl halftime sponsorship with Beyonce. After all, if Pepsi were flying high, wouldn't the company just run more Doritos ads in the big game?

“We are integrating on execution activities from national advertising to localized packaging, in-store activities and promotions,” Nooyi said. “The national ties between the NFL and PepsiCo. are happening across our portfolio, from Gatorade to Pepsi and Lay's to even Quaker and we're leveraging them both using traditional and social media.”

(Suggestions are social media just makes TV advertising more effective.)

As the investor call moved ahead, sales executives might have continued to feel bummed if Pepsi felt it had to invest so much in R&D to develop a new line of products -- which would of course cost it handsomely in ad dollars. R&D is yielding some “natural sweeteners, enhancers” and more “that will allow us to go in and create real differentiation in our product portfolio” with carbonated beverages in 2014, if not before, Nooyi said.

Consumers “love bubbles, they love the caffeine, they love cola taste,” she said.

Sales executives wouldn't want Coke to exploit that first with new extensions, meaning Pepsi would still be playing catch-up, would they?

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