Pepsi chief urges brands to make a difference

The soft drinks industry can make a difference to the diets of the population if it reworks its marketing to promote the issue, according to a leading Pepsi executive.

Speaking to the UK soft drinks industry conference in London today (13 May), Garrett Quigley, general manager of Pepsi UK and Ireland, said brands must lead the way in encouraging consumers to switch to no-sugar alternatives or healthier alternatives.

“Widespread media attention is on improving the diet of the population, and the pressure is on brands to reinforce this through their marketing and advertising efforts,” he said.

Quigley said PepsiCo had made “huge strides” in this, with the company’s “Performance with Purpose” vision helping it enforce a pledge to reduce salts, sugars and saturated fats across its portfolio. This has also been reflected in the company’s recently published health report.

Part of this has involved adapting its marketing efforts to reflect these goals.

Quigley said: “We have pledged that all our ads will focus on no-sugar or natural parts of our portfolio from this year. In the UK, we haven’t advertised [normal] Pepsi since 2006.”

“We are also leveraging our celebrity partners to promote other initiatives in non-branded ways, such as endorsing breakfast clubs or taking part in the Change4Life push.”

He also cited the company’s move to offer bigger sizes of its sugar-free on-the-go variants as a “significant step to achieving our goals.”

Quigley says the aim of this is to “use its brand leverage to help consumers change their choices and to drive change for the better.” He adds “You can hold us to account for that.”

Earlier, Zenith International researchers had revealed that figures for 2009 soft drink consumption showed carbonates was the only category to outperform the market in the last year.

Victoria Milne, senior analyst at Zenith International, says: “There is a move towards the middle ground of healthy refreshment drinks for the health-conscious and naturally minded consumer.”

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