PepsiCo turns to nostalgia

14 March 2011

NEW YORK: PepsiCo, the food and beverage giant, is turning to nostalgia as a way of promoting a number of its leading products.

The company has recently been selling "throwback" cans of its eponymous cola, using a template and colour scheme like that featured in famous ads starring model Cindy Crawford during the 1980s.

Over the last few months, these offerings have boosted Pepsi sales by one share point, with roughly half this figure, or approximately $110m, counting as incremental growth.

Indeed, the organisation has decided to extend this programme for the foreseeable future, including using sugar, as was traditionally the case, rather than the more contemporary high-fructose corn syrup.

Elsewhere, the firm has introduced versions of its Mountain Dew soft drink which echo a design originally developed in the 1960s.

Snack brand Doritos, part of PepsiCo's Frito-Lay division, tapped the same strategy for its Taco Flavor Tortilla Chips in an initiative created in the run up to the Super Bowl.

Such was the success of the 1980s-inspired packs that they sold out, and Frito-Lay is thus going to make them a permanent addition to its range, implementing slight reformulations before launch in around a month.

"It's a return to a simpler world," Shiv Singh, head of digital for PepsiCo, told USA Today. "There's a massive teen trend around simplicity and authenticity."

The nostalgia habit reaches into other sectors, from Volkswagen's reinvention of the Beetle, Disney remaking the hit film TRON, and Adidas boasting a "Classic" selection of sporting goods.

Peter Madden, a branding consultant, suggested a major benefit of this approach was gaining the attention of older shoppers keen to relive times past.

However, when done properly, it similarly appeals to younger consumers who believe that "retro" products carry a certain cachet.

"You'd think it's a step back, but it's really a leap forward," he said.

Data sourced from USA Today; additional content by Warc staff