Pepsi should not let blues get it down

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I read with great interest “Bubble bursts for $500m Pepsi refit” (MW June 7).

For PR practitioners who watched from the sidelines last month as Pepsi turned the world blue, it would have been easy to feel smug reading the doom and gloom reporting of the first six weeks of the Change the Script campaign.

This must have been one of the highest profile launches to date – launch day was bluer than a blue day when you’ve got the blues. I can’t have been the only person wishing enviously that it had all been my idea.

Now, the end of the world is nigh. “Pepsi gets a severe case of the blues” – half a page in the Sunday Telegraph no less. “Serves them right” they imply. “The most expensive relaunch ever, all those celebrities, and their market share has actually dropped.”

However, most nationals were perfectly happy to provide acres of editorial exposure for the launch – by any PR standards this surely indicates a runaway success.

Pepsi chose to spend the rumoured 350m of its own free will on a complete product repositioning, and it seems rather premature to go in so hard after only six weeks.

Long-term justification of the historic spend lies with people like Simon Lowden, the marketing director for Pepsi UK.

He was defending Blue stoutly at the weekend, pointing out that key consumer indicators of brand awareness were now at an all-time high. This is presumably very important in a market where tiny percentage movements of market share can equate to millions of cans of the stuff.

But to me, the money, and the celebrities it paid for, wasn’t the main attraction. I applaud real creativity anywhere in life – and people who are prepared to have a really big idea and the confidence to take it all the way.

And that’s what Pepsi did with Blue. It was a glorious celebration of one really creative concept. Lucky Matthew Freud had a client who could make the wildest interpretations of the idea come true, even down to putting a Pepsi can in space.

Let’s hope other clients, and consultancies, with brave ideas, won’t be put off exploring breakthrough concepts by the threat of a few press comments.

Don’t let’s get the blues too soon.

Sally Costerton

Argyll Public Relations

Camberley

Surrey

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