Firebrands insight: Pepsi

Selling the dead is most commonly associated with the likes of 19th century opportunists Burke and Hare, not modern-day multinational corporations. However there appears to be a lucrative trade in the profession. Michael Jackson died over 3 years ago, yet continues to feature heavily in Pepsi promotional videos and adverts. Since his death he has ranked number 1 (on two occasions) in the Forbes ‘Top Earning Dead Celebrities’.

Pepsi earlier this year launched a new advertising campaign, “Live for now”; a Twitter-Pepsi partnership aiming to integrate people more into the world of music through twitter, with Michael Jackson continuing to headline the movement. It is certainly proving a hit; on Firebrands, Pepsi’s best performing day so far occurred on the day of a Nicki Minaj concert that Pepsi very kindly streamed live to all of it’s followers. Pepsi’s plan to re-associate themselves with pop culture and elevate their drink back into second place (currently knocked off by Diet Coke) on the global market is in full steam.

Pepsi and Twitter are hard at work together offering Pepsi’s Twitter followers free music downloads and video content, taking every opportunity to promote their brand. Pepsi’s behaviour on Twitter is excitable and enthusiastic, aiming to get followers more involved, not simply in Twitter or Pepsi, but music. And more importantly, music through Twitter.

Pepsi’s Facebook page focuses on the same aspect of promoting Pepsi sponsored concerts and events. Facebook images are linked to the number of Tweets they have, an interesting way to link their Facebook and Twitter followers, creating less of a distinction and facilitating the crossover between the two social media networks.

Lets talk Cola-wars. Pepsi’s arch-nemesis is of course Coca-Cola. Each mega-brand vies for the hearts and minds of cola drinkers, in the hope of outdoing the other. Pepsi through celebrities, Coca-cola through togetherness and nostalgia. However as it stands, it is, and predominantly has been, Coca-cola that is winning the war, especially now that it has first and second place in the global soft-drinks market.

The key opportunity for Pepsi now is to try and dominate with its “Live for Now” campaign and somehow turn events like the Nicki Minaj concert from one-off peaks in performance into a more long term sustainable advantage over their rivals.

Illustration by Jimmy Ray