Pepsi’s disappointing new slogan says a lot about the brand, as well as marketing industry generally.

There’s so much to be disappointed about Pepsi’s ‘slogan’ announcement, it’s hard to know where to start.

After two decades, Pepsi has seemingly concluded that adopting a marketing slogan would help them to better explain their brand and improve their business. We’re no great fan of slogans in general. They range from at the best, the justified and inspired to the insipid. Too often they are bland, repetitive and dismal, and at worst they are superficial and simply repetitive of whatever are the category’s superlatives.

But in Pepsi’s case, to debate whether ‘to slogan, or not to slogan’ for two, glacial decades, – during which the world has reinvented itself hundreds of times in every dimension, only for Pepsi to come up with what must be one of the blandest, lowest-rung, brand promises possible is simply demoralising.

At least since the 1975’s Pepsi Challenge campaign, they have focused their proposition on ‘preferred taste’ demonstrated in supposedly vox pop taste-tests. So far so good. Many studies have shown that Coke’s out-spending and suave business model, leveraging bottlers to support its brand, created an illusion of mass preference, even when blind taste tests suggested different results.

So all this has been long known. Why now, then does Pepsi feel the need for a slogan to say so?

And why state the bleeding obvious in such a boring way, when everyone has understood their brand claim for a long time? What is the advantage now of doing so? And if it makes sense now, what has changed from before? Where the previous management so myopic or asleep at the wheel that they missed the obvious, or is the current management simply out of ideas?

The scarier point is what this says about the state of professional brand marketing and strategy industry. Are we all simply a bunch of tea readers who cast around for a new way of rearranging the past and to stay relevant by reinventing the wheel? It’s a horrible endorsement of the frequent criticism by the quantitive industries that cast the creative and strategy businesses as being the ‘colouring in’ departments.

Then again, perhaps we are missing the point and I’ve looked at this the wrong way…


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