After a break of nearly two years, the advertising war between rivals PepsiCo and Coca-Cola seems to have begun in right earnest this summer.
Late last month, PepsiCo set the tone for this season’s ad war by making a spoof of the ongoing Thums Up campaign for its clear lemon drink Mountain Dew.
PepsiCo upped the ante by using the mimicked voice of cricketer Virender Sehwag — the only player endorsing Coke — in its latest ‘Oye Bubbly’ campaign for Pepsi.
The latest Mountain Dew campaign lampoons the Thums Up ad, which uses Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar to push a consumer promotion initiative.
A PepsiCo spokesperson said the Mountain Dew ad was intended to reflect the attitude of the brand. “The ad speaks for itself,” she said. According to company executives, there could be more such ads before the end of the season.
“Such ads have to be opportunistic and have to fit in with the character of the brand. We will certainly make more spoofs if there is an opportunity,” said a PepsiCo executive.
Rival Coke said it was not perturbed over the potshots taken by Pepsi. Coca-Cola executives dub the move by Pepsi as a strategy that is usually adopted by the challenger in the market.
“As the leader in every category of the soft drink market, we will look to consolidate our position rather than react to somebody else’s advertisements,” said a Coca-Cola India spokesperson.
But two years ago, Coke had extensively used the communication for its brands Thums Up and Sprite and celebrities like Salman Khan and Sushmita Sen to make fun of PepsiCo’s products including the then newly-launched Mountain Dew.
“So, did Coke attack Mountain Dew because it was the marketleader as soon as it was launched,” asked a PepsiCo executive.
The ad wars had come to an end two years back as the two rivals had mutually decided to stop taking potshots at each other.
“Such spoofs became something like a slanging match between the marketing teams of one company to the other. It did’t serve any purpose,” a former marketing head of PepsiCo had told Business Standard in early 2004.
According to sources in McCann Erickson, the agency on record for Coca-Cola, it would be very difficult for the company to resist the temptation of retaliating in some form or the other.