US Cola Wars Intensify as Pepsi Debuts Vanilla Campaign

18 August 2003

PepsiCo stepped up its battle with Coca-Cola at the weekend as it launched a major campaign to back new product Pepsi Vanilla.

The brand extension is a belated response to Coke Vanilla, launched in May last year. Pepsi initially scoffed at a vanilla variant – until, that is, it proved a hit.

Now a campaign created by BBDO Worldwide in New York takes aim at the Coke extension by touting the new Pepsi product’s lighter taste – the ‘not-so-vanilla Vanilla’, as the ads claim. The spots will run on prime-time broadcast and cable television.

Pepsi is reportedly spending almost $20 million (€17.8m; £12.5m) to support the launch, with the campaign due to run into the fourth quarter. This is close to the $22.7m Coke spent on its own vanilla launch last year.

The beverage behemoths are increasingly resorting to such spin-offs to boost revenues as sales of the core cola brands decline. However, sales of brand extensions after the high-profile launch can quickly fall away – sales volumes of Vanilla Coke from mid-June to mid-July were 64.5% down year-on-year.

Data sourced from: The Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff