Coke Joins Pepsi In Move To Slow Soda Decline

cocacola-avatarReady for the return of the Cola Wars? On the heels of Pepsi's "Refresh Everything" campaign, which uses a redesigned logo similar to the one President Barack Obama used during his campaign, Coca-Cola has unveiled a new marketing effort and tagline, "Open Happiness."

" It's fascinating to me that both Coke and Pepsi at the same time are launching big new campaigns and big marketing blitzes behind their flagship colas," John Sicher, editor and publisher of Beverage Digest, tells Marketing Daily. "It's probably the most directly competitive I've seen these two companies over their big colas in over a decade."

Coke launched its new campaign this week with television advertising during broadcasts of "American Idol" on Fox. The beverage marketer will also hit other high-profile advertising events like the Super Bowl and the Academy Awards. The campaign will roll out globally over the coming weeks.



One of the new television commercials for the U.S. depicts people using their digital devices (computers, phones, etc.) and turning into their alter-ego online avatars. When one man--who has not turned into his avatar--reaches for a Coke at the same time as a scary-looking beast, the beast turns into a pretty woman and a real-life connection is made. Another ad humorously depicts what could occur if something happened to one of the two men who know Coke's secret formula ("Cookouts would be catastrophic." and "Santa would be sleepy.").

In addition to the television ads, the effort also includes new point-of-sale, promotions, outdoor, print and music components. One of the new commercials will feature a music track that will be released as a commercial music single. The music is billed as a collaboration between recording artists from Gnarls Barkley, Fall Out Boy, Panic at the Disco and Gym Class Heroes.

"Open Happiness is designed to work at every level--from national advertising all the way down to coolers and store shelves, with a clear call to action at the point of purchase," said Coca-Cola Chief Marketing Officer Joe Tripodi in a statement. "The combination of inspirational marketing and in-store execution in collaboration with our bottling partners worldwide will ensure we continue to reinvigorate the sparkling category."

Coke's launch comes only weeks after Pepsi introduced an effort tagged "Refresh Everything." As part of its campaign, Pepsi had a presence at Obama's inauguration on Tuesday, with headlines featuring "Yes you can" and a redesigned logo similar to the image Obama used during his presidential campaign. As part of the campaign, the company created a Web site through which people could upload a video message to Obama.

The timing of the two efforts is not coincidental, Sicher says. Sales of carbonated soft drinks have been declining, as sales of bottled water and energy drinks have grown. With the economy slowing and sales of bottled water and energy drinks softening, it's time for the two companies to focus on their core brands, he says.

"These two brands are so big relative to the rest of their companies' portfolios that if they don't do better than they've been doing, getting the strong beverage growth is going to be difficult," Sicher says. "These efforts by Coke and Pepsi won't return these brands to growth anytime soon, but could begin decreasing the rate of decline and maybe even get them back to break-even in terms of volume."

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