The Difference in PR Strategies: Coke vs. Pepsi

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Whats the difference between Coke and Pepsi? In the world of high-stakes PR campaigning, there’s many.

On one hand, Coke has big campaign mentality like the “Share a Coke” campaign. This focuses on personalization and digital-age advertisements. They use many different agencies – In September 2008, Coke hired the Dewey Square Group firm “for communications work regarding climate change, trade and assorted industry issues.” They’ve also used Weber Shandwick to handle PR.

Pepsi, on the other hand, uses multiple agencies and highlights their image as a popular and historical product. This leads to the recycling of campaigns like “Joy of Pepsi” which reintroduces old ideas in a new context. This continually links new consumers to Pepsi’s history in pop culture. Pepsi uses Omnicom holding companies as their primary PR firm but have set up “Team Pepsi,” that outsources to firms and agencies outside of Omnicom.


“Share a Coke” Campaign

In 2014, Coke’s “Share a Coke” campaign enjoyed popular success with fans, and the company continued to capitalize on its success in 2015, when it rolled out “Share a Coke 2.0.” The appeal of the campaign is in its personalization, where the 2.0 brand of Coke swapped out their iconic logo with 1,000 of America’s most popular names.

The “Share a Coke” campaign was spearheaded by Laura Thompson, Director, Brand and Business Communications for The Coca-Cola Company. The naming allowed fans to use cokes in weddings, holidays, or just as tokens of friendship. Coke also added an ability to order individual or six packs with customized names or titles.

“While last year people found great ways to use Share a Coke in amazing ways, this year we’ve given people the tools to make sharing even more personal,” Evan Holod, Coca-Cola Brand Director, says. “Our e-Commerce platform, along with new glass and aluminum bottles at retail, gives people a way to plan ahead, to use Share a Coke to make their most special occasions a little more special, and brings people together in the way Coca-Cola always has.”

Other Agencies: UM, Ogilvy, SRA Rushmore, and Santo…

In April 2015 Coke announced that, in addition to using PR Firms Dewey Square Group and Weber Shandwick, that they would be using a multitude of media and advertising agencies on the international front. The listing included Ogilvy from New York, Madrid’s SRA Rushmore, and Santo in Buenos Aires.

A few months later, Coke announced the decision to make UM their lead media agency.

“At the end of a rigorous ten-week process: process, Coca-Cola North America has decided to invite UM to be our lead agency for all of our media planning, buying and media analytics,” the company said in a statement to Ad Age. “They will also be the primary partner for devising the most innovative and business driving connections strategies.”

Specializing in international campaigns, the media agency UM has contributed to Australian Coca-Cola campaigns like “Colour Your Summer”, which changed the color of coke cans and unlocked content and codes via smartphones. In Sweden, UM developed the “Happiness Machine” to appeal to consumers who desire warmth from cold regions.

joy of pepsi

“Joy of Pepsi” Campaign

Bringing back a Classic, Pepsi capitalizes on nostalgia with their “Joy of Pepsi” campaign that originally aired in 1999. The company and revamped the commercial for 2015 consumers. The new ad replaces child actress Hallie Eisenberg’s voice with the voice of former homeless man and media sensation Ted Williams.

“The new rendition is reflective of Pepsi’s rich history in pop culture, which has allowed the brand to constantly position itself as a leader within the space and align with the best talent in both sports and entertainment,” the brand stated.


team pepsi marketing

Team Pepsi

Pepsi also created a whole team of agencies, which they call “Team Pepsi”.

At the center of the PR model is Omnicom (whose PR firms include Porter Novelli & Ketchum PR), as this article from Forbes points out:

“Last year Omnicom created a ‘Team Pepsi’ model called Galaxy that includes TBWA, which handled North American advertising, creative agency BBDO, which handled overseas work, and 180LA. But the brand ended up looking to other shops, many of them outside Omnicom, for high-profile campaigns.”

By using multiple agencies under the banner of one plan, Pepsi has the option of assigning different campaigns to smaller, niche branding companies, which provides more control over the brand’s image.

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