package design

Pepsi Needs to Can "Skinny" Equals "Beautiful And Confident" Marketing

Posted by Abe Sauer on February 9, 2011 08:00 AM

Thin is in. But is it ever not?

Our initial react to the announcement that Diet Pepsi would be available in a new "skinny" can was all cheers and raves. How better else is a product with near 100% market awareness and no ability to change its core product (diet soda) supposed to refresh itself?

A "skinny" can draws attention and asks consumers to look at what is essentially the same old product with a whole new perspective. It's exactly how brands should use package design to communicate brand qualities (without changing the product) and create a new brand-consumer conversation without risking core brand values.

But then we read Pepsi's marketing pitch.

Wasn't it enough to have a fresh, dynamic new look to the product? Apparently not.

Like so many brands, Pepsi had to read more into the can than what is there. From Pepsi's press release:

"In celebration of beautiful, confident women, Diet Pepsi presents the taller, sassier new Skinny Can at New York's Fall 2011 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, Feb. 10-17. The new Diet Pepsi Skinny Can, available to consumers nationwide in March, will launch with a series of fashion events and celebrations, including an art installation by fashion commentator, Simon Doonan, and collaborations with acclaimed designers, Charlotte Ronson and Betsey Johnson… Our slim, attractive new can is the perfect complement to today's most stylish looks, and we're excited to throw its coming-out party during the biggest celebration of innovative design in the world."

Did Pepsi just compare being "skinny" with celebrating "beautiful, confident women?"

Oh no Pepsi didn't. (Yes, it did.)

That Pepsi chose this approach for its new package is a tremendous shame because, as we outlined above, the idea behind the can is inspired in and of itself. For example, this female Tweeter loves the idea for all the wonderful practical reasons.

But no. Instead, Pepsi has rolled out garbage positioning for the can. It's sure to be for Pepsi should the brand continue to push this "beautiful women = skinny" messaging.

Even worse, there appears to be no reason Pepsi needed to do this.

Blogs where Pepsi has seeded early product and possibly paid for placement, reviews have been positive despite staying away from the "empowered women" bulls**t. For instance, the Miss Lulu blog points out (disclosure: probably for pay) that it's more portable and "cute." (below)

In fact, we hope that Miss Lulu's review was not product placement because it would demonstrate that Pepsi was fully aware of how to positively communicate the attributes of its great new can... but then chose not to.


Ripe Inc United States says:

All of this just goes to show why branding is so important. The product stays the same, basically, year in, year out. There are very few people yet to discover the taste of Pepsi or Coca-Cola. The drinks are not particularly good for us, everybody is aware of that also. So how do they (and when I say "they" I'm talking about any major product brand today) keep us engaged? How do they keep us talking about them so they stay front and center in our minds? The power of branding. The pro-active exercise of always having something new and interesting to say about the same product. Finding creative ways to reach out and touch the audience to get them talking is something every company of every size should be constantly thinking about.

February 9, 2011 10:23 AM #

smkeddy United States says:

Being thin and in shape is not only more attractive...its healthier. We have a massive obesity problem in this country and sugary sodas take part of the blame. Any marketing that focuses on being closer to the healthy weight for your body is a good thing.

February 9, 2011 05:08 PM #

Comments are closed

elsewhere on brandchannel

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
brandcameo2014 Product Placement Awards
Apple loses its crown to a new #1
Coca-ColaIt's the Journey That Matters:
Coca-Cola Opens Up With Story-Based Web Refresh
debateJoin the Debate
Is product placement a waste of money?
Arthur Chinski and Joshua Mizrahi
Model Behavior? Brands Beware
U.S. Legal Changes Impact Use of Brand Ambassadors
paperCorporate Citizenship in Canada
Fresh thinking from Interbrand
Sheryl Connelly
Sheryl Connelly

Meet Ford's Resident Futurist
Highlighting the Present—and Future—of Branding in Latin America and Iberia