Coke director brands Pepsi Challenge a flop

Coca-Cola UK marketing director George Bradt has publicly rubbished PepsiCo’s heavyweight Pepsi Challenge promotion as a flop, three months after its launch.

Market research figures from Nielsen suggest Pepsi’s market share has fallen since the promotion started on May 1. The high-profile campaign includes TV ads, 2 million coupons and a roadshow covering 60 cities and employing a crew of 80 people.

Nielsen figures, which cover impulse outlets as well as supermarkets, show Pepsi has failed to turn so-called taste preference results into market share gains. Bradt says: “Pepsi market share is down” and the promotion is “tired”.

The Pepsi Challenge is expected to run until August 31, by which time 1 million UK consumers are supposed to have conducted blind taste tests on the two major cola brands. About 60 per cent are said to have preferred Pepsi so far.

Nielsen figures show Pepsi’s volume market share fell from 20.5 per cent to 18.5 per cent during June. During the same period, Coke’s share grew from 46.3 per cent to 51.1 per cent. In June last year, Coke’s market share was 55.5 per cent, while Pepsi’s was 19.2 per cent.

A PepsiCo spokeswoman says this was because Coca-Cola slashed prices. She adds that the Pepsi Challenge will continue.

Simon Bartlett, Pepsi brand manager at bottling partner Britvic, says the last time the challenge was run five years ago it resulted in Pepsi gaining three percentage share points.

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