Cola Wars Trigger Surprising Brain Waves

19 October 2004

A new theory from US neuroscientists has burst soft drink giant Pepsico's bubble.

In a blind taste test between its brand, Pepsi-Cola and arch-rival Coca Cola, carried out at the Baylor College of Medicine in Texas, there was little to choose between the drinks.

However, the results changed dramatically when tasters knew they were drinking Coke. Three-quarters of them said they preferred it to Pepsi.

The scientists also found the sight of Coke's red and white label triggered parts of the brain dealing with memory, cultural identity and self-image. Sadly for Pepsico, their brand's label failed to elicit the same response.

The college's Dr Read Montague says the research, funded by the National Institute of Drug Abuse, disproves Pepsi's famous 1980s advertising campaign in which consumers blind tasted Coke and Pepsi and professed themselves amazed to discover they preferred the latter.

Montague denies his research is a sinister weapon in the 'neuromarketing' armoury, saying: "We are not trying to figure out how to market something better. We want to be able to better understand how brains work so that we can hopefully cure more neurological disorders

Data sourced from Brand Republic (UK); additional content by WARC staff