The Cola Wars are legendary and taught as case studies in business schools all over the country. Back in the 1980s, Pepsi ran a series of advertisements where people, caught on hidden camera, in a blind taste test, chose Pepsi over rival Coca-Cola. And many will of course remember the infamous strategic retreat Coke made on July 11, 1985, by announcing its plans to bring back the original ‘Classic’ Coke after recently introducing New Coke.
Pepsi had its groove on back then and it was heady times for the beverage company. But in spite of clever marketing moves, Coke kept beating Pepsi for the top spot in brand equity challenges. Coke has maintained that top spot for years, with Pepsi always at a strong second.
Fact is, both companies are very able and nimble competitors and neither should be considered down for the count. The long-term view is that these two have been in the boxing ring for years, swinging hard, retreating to their corners, then slogging it out another round. And making billions on the seemingly unquenchable thirst the world has for cola.
Fast forward to this week, and it’s 2011 March Madness in the era of real-time social media marketing. So who’s winning the Social Cola Wars?
Looks like Pepsi’s got its own version of March madness going on. On March 17, 2011 Beverage Digest announced that Pepsi has fallen to third place behind Diet Coke in spite of its gutsy move to shift from Super Bowl TV ads to a global social charity program called the Refresh Project in 2010. Ouch.
Aha, cry the social media skeptics. This proves that social media is indeed a fad after all! We knew that social media wasn’t working. Sales numbers are down! And in Pepsi’s case, it looks like doing good did not translate into doing well.
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