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Pepsi taps the power of emojis

News, 09 May 2016

NEW YORK: Pepsi, the soft drinks brand, believes that its latest marketing campaign, which is based around emojis, can make it part of a "cultural moment" occurring across multiple markets.

Moira Cullen, PepsiCo's VP/Global Beverage Design, discussed this topic at the Brand Strategy Conference 2016, an event held by the Global Strategic Management Institute (GSMI) in New York.

And she dug down into the "#SayItWithPepsi" program, which will add a mix of universally recognisable images and nationally-tailored emoticons to packaging for its main product variants in over 100 countries.

"It was a simple idea that we started with: That we would be able to propel [Pepsi] into the cultural moment," Cullen said. (For more, including further details of the campaign, read Warc's exclusive report: Emojis: Pepsi's new weapon in the cola wars.)

"There are hundreds and hundreds of these unique symbol pictures that consumers are able to use to tell their own stories and create [with]."

And by employing symbols with universal relevance – such as smiling and laughing faces – as well as specific icons for individual nations, Pepsi has created a new form of relevance both on-shelf and in its marketing messages.

"We are a symbol brand," Cullen said. "What we've done is, based on the visual symbols of this culture – which are powerful, potent visual symbols – tell stories and communicate without words."

Pepsi's current reinvention comes at a time when Coca-Cola is also modifying its packaging by adopting a more common design format as part of its "One Brand" program.

Having previously worked at the Coca-Cola Company, Cullen suggested the two brands essentially operate with a different underlying ethos.

"They are similar in a product, but in terms of a brand, they are very different. One is timeless, and one is about being timely, and about being now, and about always changing," Cullen said.

"Coca-Cola has pretty much stayed the same way for over 100 years, whereas Pepsi has kind of been all over the place. And a brand person would initially say, 'Oh my God; what a terrible case study.' But no, that's the brand. The brand is one that is constantly changing, and about the 'now'."

Data sourced from Warc