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Pepsi's Global Strategy

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When the "You're in the Pepsi Generation" advertising campaign launched in 1963, it may have been the first time a brand was marketed primarily with an association to its consumers' aspirational attitudes. A decidedly youth-oriented strategy, the campaign hoped to hook young Baby Boomers while they were still young. In 1984 Pepsi launched another long-running campaign, "The Choice of a New Generation," and in 1997 they debuted the "GeneratioNext" concept.

The newest campaign slogan, introduced this year, is "More Happy," which definitely coincides with one concrete example of "more" in the packaging of Pepsi products today—more designs. Many more. At least 35 distinct design ideas will grace the packaging of Pepsi's cans and bottles this year alone, and this design strategy may continue indefinitely.

Though not "generational" in word, the campaign certainly has a youth-oriented feel with package designs, advertising, and websites that are fun and playful. PepsiCo worked closely with Peter Arnell and Arnell Group, based in New York City, to devise a comprehensive new strategy that would connect with Pepsi's core consumers. Arnell reinvented the Pepsi package as a meaningful and appealing communications tool for the latest generation of youth that are not overwhelmed by media, music, or digital distractions.

Experiental packaging

Arnell Group (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Omnicom Group) is a design and brand creation firm specializing in experiential design and product innovation, preferring to take complete branding and packaging projects from first concept to complete market solutions. Peter Arnell, currently chairman and chief creative officer of Arnell Group, formed the Arnell Group Innovation Lab in 1999 to place invention and innovation at the forefront in a collaborative laboratory for corporations interested in designing for next generation products and experiences. Arnell applied many of his philosophies in the Pepsi project.

"Peter has taken a classic and turned it into a modern, innovative, and relevant marketing and communications tool," said Ron Coughlin, chief marketing officer, beverages, PepsiCo International. The new global look launched in February with eight new package designs across cans and bottles, and the campaign is unfolding in a similar manner overseas. The can designs roll out one at a time approximately three weeks apart to enhance the anticipation of discovery and to pique the interest of collectors.

"Product innovation today must be driven by deep consumer meaning and connectivity," says Arnell. "It is less about unmet needs and more about giving people what they haven't asked for but are dying to have. Using design to turn packaging into personal consumer-powered media helps create the ultimate supportive and inspiring relationship between Pepsi and its youth audience."

Thinking globally

The Pepsi can designs roll out one at a time, but the two-liter Pepsi bottles will have three or four designs out at any given time.

Mike Doyle, creative director at Arnell Group, explains that there was a great depth of exploration and research that was conducted before even beginning to formulate a new Pepsi packaging strategy. PepsiCo and Arnell Group traveled extensively to emerging markets to find key consumer product drivers for youth cultures and to learn how the Pepsi brand was perceived in different countries.

They found, somewhat surprisingly, that there were very few differences around the world in how consumers felt about Pepsi's fun, effervescent brand image. "The brand equity is really consistent," says James Miller, marketing director, Pepsi-Cola North America. They also found many consistencies in youth cultures around the world in how today's youth is preoccupied with newness, discovery, and personalization of their possessions. Miller describes the design campaign's goal as "sustainable discovery," where the consumer audience is constantly intrigued and engaged.

Designers at Arnell Group created the dozens of new and vibrant designs with only a handful of blue and gray shades. Each design tells a story of sorts and each can design has a unique website address on the side of the can. The first one on the "Your Pepsi" can allows web users to design a digital billboard that will appear in Times Square, and one coming shortly will allow users to mix their own music online.

"We redefined packaging as media in the marketplace for Pepsi," says Doyle. "It speaks to youth in their language." Doyle believes that the designs succeed because they are able to capture the audience's mind space. "The designs are reflecting back to the culture instead of talking to the culture or imposing on it."

Reassuringly Pepsi

Pepsi actually asked their loyal consumers what brand elements would have to remain so that they would be intuitively reassured that their favorite drinks were not changing and the brand they trusted was still essentially the same. Their answer was direct and consistent. Pepsi-lovers needed to see three elements for sure—the Pepsi "globe," the iconic Pepsi blue, and the familiar tilted Pepsi capital letters.

Arnell Group updated the primary logo substantially and cleverly without really redesigning its key elements. The most recent logo design had the Pepsi wordmark on top of and slightly overlapping the iconic Pepsi red-white-and-blue "globe." On the previous can design, the wordmark wrapped halfway around the can, and the globe was off-center. The new cans and bottles have un-bundled the word and globe, making the newly centered globe more of the hero, and the smaller Pepsi wordmark less prominent.

Television ad campaigns are reinforcing the globe-centric approach by featuring a boulder-sized Pepsi globe in various settings careening to and fro like a pinball. In the ads and on the front of most of the new packages is the reassuring tag line: "Same Pepsi inside, new look outside." Miller explains that it is customary and important to reassure consumers for at least six months in situations like this.

Miller also sees today's youth as demanding authenticity from the products they come into contact with in their day-to-day experiences. The new Pepsi design strategy is versatile because it can be authentic and stay current, and it could also make introducing special seasonal or regional designs more intriguing and less disruptive. "This is a new way of using packaging as media," explains Miller. "The consumer is looking for more variety and expecting more from their brands. They want to have a dialogue with their favorite brands."

By Ron Romanik

Source: Package Design

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