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.