I love Coca-Cola. I hate Pepsi. I probably wouldn’t feel like that if it weren’t for my parents. My brother prefers Pepsi. For reasons beyond my understanding, my parents nurtured this conflict. This is strange, since they generally just bought what was on sale (and we were growing up during the whole cola wars episode, so there were lots of sales). This manifested in various ways throughout the years, but the end result is that our preferences polarized. When I go to a restaurant and ask for a “Coke” and they ask if Pepsi is ok, I generally change my order to something else (root beer, water, etc…) Now, I’m not rude or even very confrontational about it, but this guy sure is:
“I’d like a Coca-Cola, please,” I told the waiter.
“Will Pepsi be OK?” he replied.
“No, I’d like a Coke,” I said.
“We serve only Pepsi products,” he stammered.
“Does anyone ever ask for a Coke?” I asked.
“All the time,” he said, “but we serve Pepsi.”
“Could you run down to the 7-11 and get me a Coke — they have plenty over there?” I asked with a smile.
Now, I’ve seen people say “No, Pepsi is not ok,” but asking for the waitress to run down to the 7-11 is pure, diabolical genius. Still, most of us Coke fiends aren’t rude about our preferences. Take John Scalzi, who wrote a great Essay on Coca-Cola a while ago, and delved into the advertising of Coke and Pepsi:
I think there really is something to how Coke positions itself. One hates to admit that one is influenced by corporate branding — it means that those damned advertisers actually managed to do their job — but what can you say. It works. Since Coke is the market leader, it doesn’t spend any time as far as I can see banging on Pepsi or other brands; its ads stick to their knitting, which is making sure that people feel that Coke is part of everyday life — and at some point during your day, you’re probably going to have a Coke. It’s inevitable. And hey — that’s okay. That’s as it should be, in fact. I don’t know that I would call Coke’s ads soft sells (after all, they brand the product literally up the wazoo), but I don’t find the advertising utterly annoying.
Which brings us back to Pepsi. Pepsi is eternally positioning itself as the outsider — “Pepsi Generation,” “Generation Next,” so on and so forth. Always young, always fun, always mildly rebellious, yadda yadda yadda. Since one goes in knowing that Pepsi is a multibillion-dollar corporation, I’ve always found the rebellion angle amusing (and not just in Pepsi’s case — if you’re a company that’s big enough to advertise your wares every single day on national networks, you’ve gotten just a bit beyond being the rebel’s choice, now, haven’t you?). Being a rebel doesn’t really work for me — most of what is positioned as being a rebel is actually not rebellion, merely sullenness and inarticulateness. And really, I’m just too bourgeois for that at this point in my life. … Besides, Pepsi can’t seem to advertise itself without bringing up the point that Coke exists, and is the better-selling brand.
And it goes on for a bit too. Great article.
This year, I learned about the existence of Passover Coke. The current Coke formula uses corn syrup as a sweetener because it’s cheaper than pure cane sugar, but since it’s not Kosher to eat corn during Passover, Coke makes some special batches of cola using pure cane sugar. It’s only available in limited quantities for a few weeks a year (you can tell because it’s got a yellow cap and Hebrew writing on it). I didn’t get a chance to do a taste test this year, but Widge did, and he says that people prefer Passover Coke to regular Coke. This, of course, leads him to make the obvious suggestion:
Look. I know it’s easier to work with and cheaper and all that good stuff. But let’s face it: consumers are trying to get away from the high fructose stuff. I don’t pretend to even understand all the health controversy that’s going on, I tried to read up on the Wikipedia article before writing this and it mentioned “plasma triacylglycerol” and my eyes sort of glazed over (mmmm, glaze). It sounds like something the crew of Star Trek Voyager would seek out while being chased by cauliflower-headed aliens. But forget all that: it just freaking tastes better. That’s all I care about, because if I was really concerned about my health, why would I be drinking Coke?
Anyway, it’s obvious you can make the stuff. It’s obvious there’s a market. I know just what to do: make a huge deal about how you believe in consumer choice and the market deciding things and release it as Coca-Cola Prime. Hell, if it’s more expensive, charge more for it. Think about it: GET PRIMED WITH COKE. See? I’m giving you a campaign for free!
I’d buy it. Good stuff.