History & Marketing Strategies of Pepsi Brand

Company Name – Pepsi
Founder Caleb Bradham 

Among the most trusted and favorite beverage brand across the globe, Pepsi is manufactured under PepsiCo as a carbonated beverage. Starting its journey as Brad’s Drink, Pepsi has its origin in United States in 1893 and it became Pepsi-Cola on 28th August in 1898. The current name Pepsi was coined in 1961.

The headquarters of PepsiCo are situated in a quaint hamlet named Purchase from Harrison village in New York, USA. Since 1st October in 2006 till present day, the Chairman and CEO of Pepsi under PepsiCo is Indra Krishnamurthy Nooyi, the fourth ranker in Fortune’s 500 list of women CEOs. 

How It All Started 

It was Caleb Bradham, an industrialist and pharmacist from North Carolina’s New Bern who developed the soft drink recipe at the drugstore in 1893 as “Brad’s Drink” which was sold there only. The recipe earned popularity quickly and in 1898, Caleb decided to rename it as Pepsi-Cola due to its ingredients like kola nuts and “dyspepsia” apart from vanilla and sugar.

His aim was to come up with a unique fountain drink which would not only be appealing in taste but would also be energy booster and digestive aid. 

The Pepsi-Cola Company was founded in 1902 by Bradham before he registered his patent for the recipe in the following year. Bradham rented a warehouse to move his Pepsi-Cola bottles from the drugstore.

With the advertising of Pepsi-Cola to be “exhilarating, invigorating” and digestive aid, Bradham created a milestone by selling 7968 gallons of Pepsi-Cola beverage and introduced the 6 ounce bottles in 1904 which automatically increased the sale to around 19848 gallons.     


With Pepsi-Cola’s popularity skyrocketing, in 1905, Bradham decided to collaborate with two interested investors for launching bottled Pepsi. In 1909, Pepsi-Cola was launched and advertised as the “bully drink” which was refreshing, invigorating and offered a great bracer before any race. Braney Oldfield, a pioneer of automobile race became the 1st celebrity for endorsing the launch of Pepsi-Cola. From then onwards till two decades, the theme or tagline of the brand was “Delicious and Healthful”.  

It was in 1919 when the Pepsi-Cola Company in Delaware made to the news but what came even more surprising in 1931 during the Great Depression was its bankruptcy, the reason of which was wild fluctuation of sugar price after World War I to some extent.

Roy C Megargel became unsuccessful in buying Pepsi trademark that led Charles Guth from Loft Inc. to purchase its trademark along with recipe and move Pepsi-Cola to New York. The chemists from Loft started to reformulate syrup formula of Pepsi-Cola and in the year 1936, the 12 ounce Pepsi bottle was launched. 


Pepsi’s marketing strategy and reasons behind its success

  • Walter Mark’s progressive niche marketing supported anti-racist causes to help Pepsi earn significant revenue from Negro beverage market. Under Edward Boyd, a 12-man team along with Hennan Smith, the executive from a Negro newspaper was hired to create a strong audience base. 
  • While Coca-Cola showed reluctance in hiring black people for the manufacturing units, Pepsi braved the threats from racist communities as well as Pepsi coworkers to lead sales team consisting of only black people. This increased Pepsi’s share on market three times over Coke in 1950s. 
  • The advertising team focused mainly on putting a smile on the faces of consumers and hence, featured middle-class self confident citizens, often black people to show how Pepsi bottles twice the size of other beverages were more tasty and cost less. 
  • For promoting Pepsi, six members from the team worked almost 24×7 and visited various churches, bottlers, schools, colleges, ladies groups, community centers, YMCAs, doctor and teacher conferences as well as different civic organizations. The groups were middle-sized and on-stage Pepsi promotion was made successful by jazz artists like Lionel Hampton and Duke Ellington.   
  • As a spokesperson of Pepsi, Joan Crawford appeared in various television specials, commercials and beauty pageants for Pepsi and even had Pepsi drinks featured strategically on several of her films. 
  • Pepsi sponsored Buffalo Bisons, the hockey league team from America which incorporated the red, blue and white color of the Pepsi logo in theirs. National Basketball Association, National Football League, Major League Soccer, Pakistani National Cricket Team etc were also sponsored by Pepsi. Various films like Home Alone, Fight Club, Back To The Future, World War Z etc had featured Pepsi prominently. 
  • As part of marketing strategy for Pepsi Stuff, Project Blue campaign in 1996 was started in U.S. and outside and it was a sensational extravaganza as it featured Air France’s Concorde airplane in blue color as Pepsi, a banner for Mir Space Station and various publicity stunts.  


Pepsi’s Campaigns 

Pepsi’s advertising campaign in 1936 during the Great Depression after World War I featured the famous jingle of ‘Pepsi-Cola hits the spot’, which was sung by Polly Bergen. Its price i.e. a nickel for 12 ounces was challenging for the 6.5 ounce Coca-Cola that was sold at the same price and hence the advertisement became a hit during economic crisis with its profit being double by 1938. 

After World War II, with the initiative of Walter Mack, Edward Boyd and Hennan Smith, an advertising campaign with a positive vibe from African Americans was started where the young Ron Brown played the role of the son to the smiling mother holding six bottles of Pepsi. With the same cause, another campaign featured 20 African Americans including Gordon Parks and Ralph Bunche for the title of “Leanders in Their Fields”.  

 In order to stay a step ahead of the rival Coca-Cola, Pepsi started the Pepsi Challenge campaign where participants were asked for blind tasting of Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola –as a result, majority were found to be choosing Pepsi’s taste over Coke and the television commercials showing the same proved to be advantageous for the company. 

David Hasslehoff starring in a commercial of Pepsi introduced the slogan of “Dare or More” while Britney Spears was cast on another commercial of “Show The Product” where Pepsi Music Company was also introduced. The sensational #LiveForNow campaign features on Times Square was to depict that Pepsi was the choice of the new generation where Michael Jackson, Britney Spears and Nicki Minaj were featured. Beyonce also painted the Pepsi logo for the commercials shown during Super Bowl halftime. 


Over years, Pepsi has invested in a plethora of variants to match requirement of every age and every health requirements. Among the popular variants of the Caramel E-150d colored soft drink are Pepsi Twist, Diet Pepsi, Caffeine-free Pepsi, Pepsi Zero Sugar etc.

With carbonated water, caramel color, high fructose corn syrup, citric acid, caffeine (not in caffeine-free variants) and carbohydrates from sugar, Pepsi drinks have been popular among the mass not only because of its taste but also because of its strategic campaigns starring the top artists. 

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