The Battle of the Brands

By E. te Grotenhuis

Dear Sodaholic readers,

As you might know, there is an ongoing battle between Coca-Cola and Pepsi. It all started way back during the 70s / 80s. This is the time when the ‘Coke-War’ really began and both companies used rather aggressive marketing campaigns to win over the consumer.

The Coca-Cola company had a monopoly position in the market, Pepsi did not had the change yet to change this. People saw coke as the “real thing”, while on the other side Pepsi was seen as a beverage for the “New Generation”.


To overcome this stigma Pepsi started in 1975 airing a commercial well-known as the ‘Pepsi-Challenge’. It was a blind taste test which took place in malls and shopping centres. People were asked to choose their favourite, and out of the test it appeared that Pepsi was the challenge winner.

Consumers started seeing Pepsi in a different light and the company slowly took a bite out of Coca-Cola’s market share.


To win their market share back Coca-Cola changed the formula of their beverage. The company found out that Pepsi used more sugar in their drink than Coca-Cola did. They brought the product in the market with the name; New Coke. Their decision to change was a big failure. Even though the drink was very successful in the taste test, consumers lost interest in the brand. Coca-Cola was forced to bring the old formula back, they branded it as Coca-Cola Classic.

Pepsi saw the change in formula as a victory, and took the advertisement a step further by kind of bullying Coca-Cola. Advertisements appeared where Pepsi attacked Coca-Cola and Coca-Cola started to respond at them. This dynamic made the Coke-war more interesting, not only for the consumers but also for the marketers.

The rivalry between the two brands is still going on, and the advertisement of both is still on point. One of the advertisements I still remember is the one used for Halloween in 2013. It is truly entertaining how Coca-Cola brilliantly coped with the insult of Pepsi.


The word war sounds really negative, but in the case of Coca-Cola and Pepsi I think we can say that it is an amusing way of marketing!






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