Coca-Cola Targets Pepsi with New Coke Classic Campaign

08 January 2003

PepsiCo is firmly fixed in Coca-Cola’s cross-wires as the Atlanta-headquartered beverages giant prepares to let fall the wraps from its new and long-anticipated global marketing drive for brand leader Coke Classic.

The campaign, the first since Coca-Cola jettisoned its ‘Life Tastes Good’ programme in 2001 – deferring to public sentiment in the wake of the September 11 atrocities – will account for “substantially more” advertising dollars than were spent last year. Since 2000 when $202 million (€194.09m; £126.16m) was allocated to Coke Classic, spend on the brand has fallen drastically.

As yet no-one is attaching numbers to the new campaign which will launch stateside shortly with a media mix that includes TV and print ads alongside sponsorship promotions – a format that will then roll-out globally.

In the absence of hard facts, Wall Street analysts are playing their usual guessing game, suggesting that the new campaign will be funded from dollars that otherwise would have gone to lesser brands such as sports drink Powerade and Dasani bottled water.

In what will be seen as a marked snub to Interpublic's incumbent shop on the Coke brand, McCann-Erickson Worldwide, the lead agency for the new campaign is WPP Group’s Berlin Cameron/Red Cell, based in New York.

PepsiCo is not expected to lie back and think of Donald Rumsfeld while Coke Classic steals market share, and insiders say a robust counter-attack this spring is a certainty.

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff