Why Coke’s Ad Soared and Pepsi’s Crashed: How Is Your Brand Doing?

With their respective television commercials, both Coke and Pepsi started out with the same goal: to refresh and redefine their respective brands.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to re-energize one’s brand. In fact, one of the most frequent pieces of advice I give to my clients is to step up and stand out more because it is very easy to fall into the obscurity trap of familiarity.

However, there is a right way to create a buzz and a wrong way.

Personalization Versus Generalization

Take a few moments to watch the Coca-Cola ad through the following link; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-ahnFYzMp8

The message is immediately clear and appealing on a personal level. It is inclusive – I actually imagined having a coke with my “own” name on it. It made me feel good because I felt that Coke was speaking to me as an individual. In other words, I was the focal point.

Now watch the Pepsi advertisement; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dA5Yq1DLSmQ

Besides being more than a minute longer than the Coke ad, I was wondering “why am I watching this?” There was nothing on the screen to which I could readily relate. Outside of Kendall Jenner doing a photo shoot, there were only unrecognizable faces participating in a disenchanted aimless protest with the words “we are the chosen.”

Referencing the differences between the Coke ad that established a warm and powerful connection with viewers, and the Pepsi ad that alienated so many, here are a few important tips to help your personal brand soar to new levels of relevance:

  • Get personal and build rapport. Recognize the fact that your success in branding your value is based on how you make others feel. People work with someone they believe they know, like and trust. Be willing to share something about you that would create a deeper connection; kids, pets, hobbies, values, etc.
  • Are you communicating what your value means “TO THEM?” The Coke ad made “ME” feel good. The Pepsi ad made me feel detached and unengaged. When someone asks what you do, don’t give them a title and job description. Instead, tell why you are passionate about what you do and how your job impacts those you serve. When you share this added information, it helps others to know what you stand for.
  • Don’t make someone work hard to “get” your message and value. A CEO of a large company shared with me that if I could not articulate my value to him in twenty seconds, he was not interested. Can you tell your brand story in a concise and efficient format? Will the listener immediately see your value?
  • Celebrate the success of others. Even though you are working in a highly competitive world, it is not a zero sum game. When you make an effort to appreciate the accomplishments of your co-workers, you will be seen as a team builder.

In the end, and beyond words and imagery, you make an authentic brand connection on a personal level. Be transparent and don’t make the assumption that people know what you stand for. Only when you personalize your brand with a clear and concise value message, will you create a memorable and lasting relationship with others.

To quote Zig Zigler’s famous words, “You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.”

2 thoughts on “Why Coke’s Ad Soared and Pepsi’s Crashed: How Is Your Brand Doing?

  1. I used to be a power Pepsi drinker. I was advised to cut down and, in fact, cut it out for health reasons. I somehow could never do that with any degree of success. Since the commercial with Kendall Jenner, I have had no desire for Pepsi. I saw nothing wrong with the commercial except for the fact that she was cast on it. The Kardashian/Jenner clan have, in my opinion, done nothing that is worthy of emulation. Pepsi lost me as a client by their casting decision.

    As for Coke. I love Coke in the bottle but it’s hard to come by. The commercials have nothing to do with it. It’s the taste. I haven’t had any cola in months. I guess I should thank Pepsi.

  2. I so agree with you about Kendall Jenner. If any product or company has an affiliation with the Kardashian’s I am repulsed. Their brand represents everything poor taste. Think about that Pepsi, Kardashians represent “poor taste”.

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