Aka, the longest post ever done here. By now you know Pepsi launched their new logo and sent the word out to 25 influencers* via a special collection of cans, set up a room on FriendFeed to discuss along with a video of the logo’s evolution. (There’s also a list on the 25 from Darryl Parker.) My own pre-launch rant on where Pepsi is as a brand can be found here as well as my post-launch rant, (with a few updated observations) and like/dislike logo poll.
In that Pepsi Cooler, brand people asked what others would do to spread the word, and are now monitoring feedback via the tag #ideas4pepsicooler in anything someone posts. My short answer is that there are a lot of things you can do. Right from the start though, I would’ve taken more than just the A-List and ask people I know to ask 25 people they know and get them to talk about it somewhere. (A microsite, blog, whatever.)
Hey. That’s what I’m doing here. Score!
Here’s my 25 and how I chose them. NOTE: Almost all replied even though less than half submitted comments for several reasons. At this point, there’s enough answers to make it worth posting though. Anyone else who didn’t get stuff in is certainly welcome to leave their answers in the comments.
The criteria was not based on the typical PR funnel top down approach that Pepsi went with, i.e., just take the top 25 A-Listers and they’ll naturally tell all their readers, who in turn will..., (and so on). Nothing wrong with that old school approach, but for a brand rethinking itself, it’s a little too expected. (And if maximum wordage is the goal, hold off on this release, have Britney Spears hold up a can during this year’s Super Bowl and ask America what they think of it. Website? Down from all the hits.)
Going this route though also undermines one of the beliefs of many on that list, that ‘conversations’ about your brand can and do take place simultaneously in different spheres outside a brand’s control, not just from the top down.
It’s because of that I chose people I read or know who have a different way of looking at things. Their ‘sphere of influence’ adds something to the mix. (If your name’s not in the list, it’s likely because your blog may have been similar to one I picked. Regular readers shouldn’t feel overlooked as you’re there in spirit. You too, feel free to throw your answers in the comments in that case.)
A brief look at their collective background: Ages from the late teens to ‘up there’, Pepsi drinkers, Coke drinkers, no soda drinkers, male, female, multicultural, varying positions in the creative fields, (account people, writers, art directors), mostly all blog, some are social media freaks and some aren’t.
I asked them three questions and told them no limits, no editing on my part, save for spell check if I chose. This is unlike the word limit FriendFeed has in its comments and allows for a freer expression of ideas. (Just how do you facilitate conversation about your brand if the very tools you use work against that goal?)
MY PLEDGE OF KWALITY TO YOU: Free refills and no word limits-ever!
Some of the comments may not be ones the brand might like, but that’s the way it goes. There’s some honesty and there’s some passion there. I asked, they answered.
The participants so far:
Alan Wolk, Ben Kunz, Andy Jukes, Corey Vilhauer, Dave Griner, Jane Sample, Hadji Williams, Joker & Me (from adssuck), Jetpacks, and next-gen of art directing snark, my daughter.
1) What do you think of the new logo?
Alan Wolk: It seems strange that they reached out to marketing bloggers about something as specific as a logo design, rather than art directors and design bloggers who would seemingly be in a better position to comment on the actual designs, rather than the wisdom of changing the design (which seems to be a different discussion, one that should have been had earlier.)
Andy Jukes: It looks like the ass of a plumber with his pants falling down! Seriously, for a million bucks, it should be more than just a tweak. Like you, I am a serious Pepsi-holic, so they don't have to attract my
vote, but every time they launch a new campaign or do something like this, it seems a bit like desperation.
Ben Kunz: Bill, I’m not a designer, but I’ll address this from the media communications point of view.
I think Pepsi made a strong move. They’ve created a logo with built-in flexibility – as seen in the video collage of the blue-white-and-red treatment opening or closing tied to the apparent aggression of the beverage – which is smart. Point of sale displays are now wildly fragmented with a million different brands at convenience stores. Rather than try to use one “brand,” which would be one point of information in that constellation of competitors, Pepsi has created a brand that can scale into many different treatments. I can imagine several glass cases filled with different Pepsi brand treatments playing with the three-dimensional, rotated, open or closed logo.
The logo also seems to appeal to different demos – the video montage shows it appearing more open, like an angry mouth, with certain beverages and very slim, almost feminine, with others. Clever. I’m sure 18-year-olds getting stoked on the latest max caffeine herbal sludge will want a logo that looks like a skull from hell, and this new logo could be morphed in that direction.
Finally, the connection between two-dimensional and three-dimensional imagery opens some doors to new media communications. The logo variations seem to open or close as different perspectives on a ball; the kick-off materials include balls, too. I’m waiting for the fizzy Pepsi iPhone game app to play with when I’m thirsty.
All in all, “brands” in some consumer product categories seem to be losing their luster – think of Levi’s fading away behind a huge variety of tiny jean brands that are much cooler for the youth set. Pepsi’s response seems to be creating a brand that can be pulled and stretched in many directions, to reach different demos, and to increase shelf space. I like.
Just don’t ask me about the sans-serif fonts.
Corey Vilhauer: It's interesting when a very popular brand gets an identity crisis. It's as if they look around and scream and say, "OMG LOOK AT ALL OF THE KOOL NEW PRODUCTS LOL I NEED TO BE LIKE THEM." And at the same time, the new products are looking at the legendary brand with reverence, wishing they had the same recognition, longing for that top-of-mind callback to decades worth of promotion and hard work.
Dear Pepsi. You can never be Coca-Cola if you don't stop reinventing yourself. (I swear, I'm in the middle of writing a post at my work blog about this. But I'm not finished. So trust me on that.)
I know, I know - Pepsi is the perrenial #2. They have to reinvent themselves because otherwise they're not doing anything to fight the Coke Machine.
Wait. That's not right, is it?
No. It's not. Better marketing and a foray into more lucrative niches is the answer. Refraining from insulting the intelligence of your drinkers is the answer.
Changing the logo and having an identity crisis every seven years? Not the answer.
This new Pepsi logo isn't bad. It's not good, either. It's just...there. It's too subtle, while at the time too forced. A smile? Really? All I see is a mangled Pepsi logo, only a few lines from being an ABA basketball. They didn't miss the boat here - they just ended up in the wrong room.
I've always believed that, with a legendary brand like Pepsi, your logo tweaks and brand clarifications need to be a little more subtle. You don't go from the old KFC to the new in one fell swoop. Instead, you do it comfortably, almost to the point that customers don't notice.
And that's the point. You don't want your customers to notice, do you? You want them to be sublty reminded that the brand is evolving without giving them rise. If you change everything drastically, aren't you just saying that the old shit didn't work? Aren't you admiting defeat? Because to most people, it looks that way.
David Griner: Like most Americans with eyes, I was reminded of the Obama logo. Beyond that, I think the version currently being floated seems a bit flat and abstract. But it's a logo, and an inoffensive one at that. The mast majority of folks will hardly notice, and likely never care.
Hadji Williams: Peter Arnell's such a hustler. I wish i had the verbal game to scam a client into a million dollar logo redesign that looks, like, well... something he swiped from the closet of the old The Jetsons anime staff.
That logo's just bad. The total can design is bad. It couldn't be any more nondescript, stiff and dull if Al Gore had designed it. Tho, the more i look at it, the more it looks like the Girl Scouts of America logo. Or a shampoo chick silhouette.
Jane Sample: It's nice enough. It's clean, simple and still sort of looks like Pepsi. Definitely following the retro trend that is in right now, which I don't think is what you should be doing for a logo redesign - following a trend, rather then leading it.
Joker: Ok if this weren't Pepsi I'd think the logo isn't that bad because in all reality it isn't bad. It isn't great either but for a new brand I don't think it would be a detriment. Ok now niceties aside, what pisses me off about this whole process is that for once in my life I'll have to go against all I've held as truth in regards to advertising. There's so much strategy injected into this fucking logo that it demonstrates how Pepsi considers itself. Carbonated Refreshment Experience, bottled happy kidney stone juice, The Ooh Ahh Fizzy Liquid Extravaganza and other like euphemisms for Soda, Cola, Pop or your preferred variation to refer to that brown/red liquid that's been with us since we began drinking something that didn't come out of a tit frustrates me to no end because yet again, a company fails to realize what they are, what they represent and the whole market speak and strategy is catered to a bunch of executives who aren't stupid, but are disconnected to their brand and what they offer to their customers.
Not sure where I'm coming from? Ok, lets look at the logo. It's clearly based on a smile............................................ you already lost me. You didn't have to explain the brand's desired communication. I already know it's a crock of shit because you're insisting to communicate to the Coked up legions of the soda world.
Our brand is a wholesome happy brand that suddenly isn't interested in The Next Generation but it is because we want everybody.
The whole process is so over thought that any shred of organic integrity and natural flow would be quickly stunted by reason which is something Clients and ad people alike don't understand. It's like getting a job to create an internet meme so brands can go viral. Just in case it needs to be said in a line rather than between them, memes
happen, they are rarely created and even if some ads have been created with that in mind, what has to come across is that the verdict is not a client or an ad agency, it's a society full of people who find nut shots and dick jokes fascinating.
So what about the logo? Like I said, if this weren't Pepsi I wouldn't have a problem with it. But since it is, I do. I'm a Coke drinker but not my heart. I've been known to drink Pepsi and that's not because I'm not loyal to Coke, but because I love 85% of all existing Sodas in the world and I like to change it up from time to time. To explain better how anal I can be with my soda tastes, I think Coca Cola from a
glass bottle is the best Cola experience you can have. Slightly chilled and STRAIGHT from the bottle. Period. If you're talking canned Cola, Pepsi tastes best when ultra frigid but Coke is more to my liking if poured room temp over ice. Yes I am that fucking weird.
So when I see the new Pepsi logo and it just seems like Vitamin Water fans were told to make something hip, clean, maleable (from branching purposes) and modern yet refined. Does the logo achieve all these things? Yes. But does it connect if that's the question? No and I'll tell you why. It's not real fucking hard. If you look at most Pepsi logos, they do everything possible to PRESERVE the swirl, wave or curl
signatured by Pepsi and call me a traditionalist, but I think evolution is fine and dandy but shouldn't interfere with a logo that we all know and on that front, this logo fails miserably.
Then comes the branching where original Pepsi is smiling, Diet Pepsi is grinning, Pepsi Max is hollering.... what the fuck and what next? Will Wild Cherry Pepsi have a hairy heimen represented with the little ball? As I've said, the whole process is over thought and they broke a cardinal rule for logos at least for a dick copywriter like myself, you changed it too much when it didn't need much changing.
Next problem I have with the whole process. If you think Pepsi you normally think they play second fiddle to Coca Cola regarding brand awareness, established communication and presence. Now is this much more to do with Coca Cola being firm with their communication or Pepsi projecting themselves AS the second fiddle. If you ask me it's all on Pepsi. Even with Coca Cola's once every two years or so slogan change, they're a little more consistent with what they say and for the most part ignore Pepsi's existence even though they look at every step they make. Pepsi on the other hand tries to bash Coca Cola and offers them free publicity every time they mention them in their ads.
So it's a disappointing unsurprise to see Pepsi try to reinvent themselves yet again....
People, it's a fucking soda. We drink it by the gallons per year. Don't try to force a connection when there was already one.
But why are our sales down? I think you hit that one on the head Bill, it's all about distribution and negotiations. I remember seeing the movie intro at theaters offering you refreshments and snacks with the Pepsi logo plastered on a Planet or some bullshit like that. I also clearly remember the day it changed to Coke. Go to a fast food and
unless you refer to KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and Long John Silver's, you're going to have a nice time finding a Pepsi but Coke shall be shoved forth every step of the way. Also, go to some bumfuck rural place and I'll bet you $20 that it'll be easier to find Coke. Nuff said.
Returning to the logo so I can answer the other questions though, you can sum up all my bullshit in three key points.
1. A process that should be organic turns out to be more artificial than the flavoring for the beverages you're pushing forth.
2. Overthinking. Thanks for the strategy, but sometimes a sound strategy is the most unsound path you can take.
3. You changed the logo too much for me to be comfortable with. You can't mess with colors or forms the public has been brought up with and not expect some kind of backlash. You mentioned that they're ignoring the Boomer demographic and I agree, it feels as if this dem isn't good enough for Pepsi so they have to change to cater to someone else. I assure you that if you quote that last sentence it would be one of the worst case scenarios of this little experiment.
Me: As a former Pepsi drinker... I'd like to sum up with: SUCKS! What the hell? All I think about is some furniture store when I see that logo. I like my soda to have balls. Big, hairy balls full of awesomeness. Coke has balls. Coke has a big shlong logo. Now... this piece of black fancy schmanzy thing is supposed to be a soda I want to drink? Sorry man, no way.
Jetpacks: First of all, with whom is Pepsi competing? Dumb question. Coke, obviously. Pepsi will forever be the Washington Generals to Coke’s Harlem Globetrotters. New uniforms won’t help the Generals, and Pepsi is wearing a new uniform. An ugly one the fans don’t recognize.
So, since Coca-Cola is so dominant, Pepsi should’ve asked this: Would Coca-Cola ever deviate from its classic white script and red logo? Never. (Yes, I know they have the alternate serif font when they use the shortened form, “Coke.”) It would be sacrilege. Coke is Coke, and as they learned with the failed launch of New Coke, to change Coke is to mess with an American icon. So too has Pepsi messed with an American icon. Actually, they keep messing with it. Their logo has continued to “evolve” since their founding. At one time, the Pepsi logo was a classic. But in this latest iteration, they’ve turned it on its side and made it smirk. It looks like something from a sci-fi film set in the future, and the new Pepsi logo is seen in a product placement shot, and everyone goes, “Did you see where the hero was drinking a Pepsi and the logo was all different?”
I showed the old and new Pepsi logos to an 11-year-old. His three word response to the new logo: “I hate it.” When I asked him why he hated it, he answered, “It’s just not right.”
I don’t care so much that the font is new, but the “wave” element has been squashed. It is an abomination of branding. It used to work, but now it strives to be cute, hip and trendy. For me, it’s a massive failure. I mean, just imagine if John McCain abandoned his storied “maverick” image and suddenly pandered to the far right wing of his party. How might that turn out? Dumb question. Nevermind.
MTLB’s offspring: The logo itself is pretty lame. Looks like something straight out of healthcare hell. The font is too cutesy.
2) If you received this package, what would you have thought of it?
Andy Jukes:I would have thought, "Cool! Free Pepsi!" but I'm not sure I would have spread the word about it.
Corey Vilhauer: The new brand package is intriguing, mainly because it included an old can. What's the point? What else was included - a post-it note that said "THIS IS THE NEW LOGO" and a big fat arrow pointed to the smile? Otherwise, it's a video (decidedly old school) and a FriendFeed room (a third-generation 2.0 concept that isn't as good as the good stuff or as fresh as the fresh stuff.)
David Griner: Hard to say without seeing it. I guess my question is this: Does providing the cans to bloggers accomplish anything that couldn't be accomplished with a high-res Flickr gallery and a Web video? I ask that as a hypothetical, because I know that blogger outreach by mail is a far better way to spark interest than just e-mailing a link. But it seems most people have been preoccupied with questions like: "Who got the boxes? Why were they picked? Why not so-and-so or me?"
Hadji Williams: If i had gotten this project on my blog, I'd laugh. I'd think it was a joke. Not because Pepsi doesn't need a redesign, they do. still. But because it's like a generic mas mailing package that out of work suburbanites get paid to do in their spare time.
Jane Sample: “Cool free stuff!” really that would have been my first thought.
Joker: I would have been scared shitless since I post anonymously and would worry about the Patriot Act even more so. If however I would have passed through the process described of having a delivery guy waiting forty minutes to give me the other two packages, I would have been disappointed at the level of what the fuckness coming from the client side so flattery would have been quickly eclipsed by confusion and frustration at seeing just how much control would ALREADY be set in my participation without having read a single letter, which would have prompted me to drink all the Pepsi and then bring out my bee bee gun to have some target practice. You can't expect a bunch of smart ass bloggers to step outside their comfort zone for a fucking brand and if it's not a risk you're willing to take, you'd be better off just discarding the idea and let us write about it on our own terms, which is in fact what is happening. Kudos for making us write so much about it but I'm not of the mind that all publicity is good publicity.
Me: Honestly? Here it goes: "Now... how much did the agency bill those idiots for this piece of shit logo?" Also, I would have thought: "And Client X said MY logo sucked. Ha!".
Jetpacks: I would’ve smelled desperation on the part of Pepsi.
MTLB’s offspring: That it was some kind of Pepsi knockoff.
3) If you were running things, how would you have gotten the word out for the new logo/package redesign? (Anything goes.)
Andy Jukes:Think I would have gone a little more traditional, like TV ads and point-of-sale displays or maybe put ads in video games (a la Barack Obama). I'm on the Internet A LOT but I had no clue about this
campaign until you wrote about it. I don't go on YouTube looking for Pepsi commercials and I don't log into FriendFeed, wondering if maybe Pepsi's started a channel.
Of course, I'm a grumpy old man, so maybe I'm not "down" with the kids these days.
Cory Vilhauer: The fact is, I don't know. The dilemma is this: new logos don't sell soda. They rarely garner positive attention. It's the vocal minority who will hate a new logo, will trash it, will make you feel as if you've just wasted $1M (wait, you did) and TADA you're sitting with another London 2012 situation.
You know what? That all just happened without your help.
A new logo isn't a surprise. Information is leaked at all times, in all manners, until the only way to unveil a new logo or brand treatment without previous knowledge is to design it yourself, in your head, without the guidance of anyone, serve as AE on the account, be the client and otherwise perform every molecule of the work as if you were the only person on the earth. As soon as someone sees it, it might as well be on a billboard in Times Square.
So sending a media kit (ha ha) to a handful of bloggers? Too late. They've already seen it. And if they haven't, they're already naturally wary of receiving a piece of corporate propaganda from a major label conglomerate.
Oh, and by the way, they're not your target.
Here's what I would do:
A. That video you sent? MAKE IT PUBLIC. Instead of treating a handful of hack bloggers (no offense - we all live out our hack fantasies on our blogs, right?) to your cute exclusive video, why not show everyone. EVERYONE. Put it on your Web site. Make a big splash. Don't trickle out a FriendFeed room - simulcast that shit from Facebook to the little banner ad on the top of my fantasy basketball league.
This is not a secret document. This is not a CD waiting for a great review in order to help it sell on its release date. This is a LOGO. Just show us once and get it over with.
B. You have a new logo! But wait. You don't have a new logo (see "Pepsi.com") You have a new image! But wait, you have no announcement of it ANYWHERE ON YOUR WEBSITE! What are you trying to do, keep this a secret?
C. I fully agree with BG. You get some of the best and most original work from some desperate freelance designer that wants a shot SO BAD. Now imagine if you had that desire from 1,000 people from around the nation. Choose the best. Upload a video! (Wait, has that been done before?)
There's one other thing I might do in their position. One very simple thing...
Take it from Coke. You can't make your customers like your new logo. But you can still treat them to the feeling of community, to a lasting loyalty that remains as they grow. Pepsi's demographics have been a younger, edgier generation for years. And when those Pepsi drinkers grow up, they find themselves out of touch with the Pepsi Generation.
Coke's only had one generation their entire life. EVERY generation.
In other words, keep your logo stable long enough for people to really love it. You can't start by attacking the entire machine at once. But you can start by focusing on one thing and making it real. Grow from there. Be subtle. Not desperate.
David Griner: It would have been nice to see the redesign go in front of authentic consumers. Maybe you just sprinkle a few cans in vending machines across the country (or heck, the planet) and attach a note telling people: "Congrats! You got a newly redesigned can! Come tell us what you think, and we'll give you 10 free iTunes downloads." In my skeptical marketing heart, I assume this was a campaign about buzz and awareness more than feedback, so why not start with the customers instead of marketing industry wonks?
Hadji Williams I'd fire the Pepsi brand manager and get whoever did this design to do a public apology for it and attach their faces to it.
Then I'd open it up to the people. No agencies or pro designers allowed. Just design students, street artists, anime folks, comicbook heads, regular people... Make it a contest with a beyond-fat grand prize (Pepsi products for life, a dental plan--you'll need it for the sugar water, and some cash--the same amount of cash Pepsi spent on this stupidly bad can design).
Jane Sample: Think Charlie and the Chocolate factory - I would produce 25 interior gold cans and then the 25 people who purchased them would get invited to the Pepsi Head Office to be part of the unveiling of the new Pepsi Logo. They would get to meet the people behind Pepsi, the new logo and of course get some free stuff. This would get more press and good will then sending out a generic package to bloggers.
Joker: Tough question because I can't say that what they tried wasn't good in theory but that's a non committal answer so lets see what I would do different. The problem I'm finding to get an answer is that honestly
I'm not in agreement with the logo change so I'd have to think of some way to push forth a decision I'm not comfortable with. That being said so my conscience is a bit more calm. Lets see first what I would do different with the existing process.
Ok, first off I'd try to find myself 25 Pepsi holics but of the unsound of mind kind. One of the links you gave me referred to them as Pepsivangelists or whatever. These are the people that live and breathe the brand and know how many logos have happened and not only that, they know the companies who designed them. I'd then contact them
and pitch to them the idea of contacting different blogs to discuss the topic. Lets be honest, there HAS to be 25 blogs willing to write about this, case in point this post and just browse along the web. People want to offer their opinion and speak point counterpoint and not just to bash Pepsi, but to HONESTLY offer their opinion, free of
charge. Then you start the conversation of what's in the works and slowly but surely offer information. You want opinions to be caramelized before you offer the shock factor because you not only want people's feedback on the change, but on what they've thought of Pepsi to that point so you can see the shifts and why they happened.
You then give one major supermarket per state a big wad of cash to have an exclusive aisle FULL of Pepsi Merchandise and nothing else and get all the channels or the news to cover it. you want your new product to be obscenely present. Also, this launch I would have held it in Summer and let me explain. Something this drastic could pretty
much benefit from true guerilla efforts. I don't mean bullshit guerilla efforts I mean REAL ones ie. having Ice Cream trucks with the new Pepsi logo plastered all over it handing out free Pepsi in mid july LA, Chicago, Orlando or whatever place you can think of to achieve three things, publicity, brand recognition and the goodwill
reminder that a cold Pepsi truly fucking helps when you're doing your best impersonation of the Wicked Witch.
Next, I would try to assuage the entrance of the new logo becausecyou're going to have people like me who are resistant to the whole change even if Obama did win. Lastly, if I wanted an online discussion I wouldn't limit myself. People talk about Facebook, or other option and what they were probably thinking is that they want all their information in one place. That's fine but don't push another brand or an unknown one. Have 100 interns moderate the blogs or blog and pay them in pepsi and scholarships and let discussion be as honest as possible. Omit foul words and dick jokes and let the rest live. I say this because clients are always scared shitless about someone saying something negative about their brand. If you ask me, having naysayers is not a bad thing because brand loyalists will be the ones to take care of them in a convincing manner without the need to over moderate information.
I could probably think of a couple of other things but this is just to show options I pulled out of my ass on a Sunday in my undies without the pressure of this change. By this, I'm implying that to think out of the box, it'd probably be an ok decision to have someone completely out of the loop to consult on random things you can do for your brand rather than someone whose job depends on performing.
Me: In a cool world, maybe do a huge "you design our logo" contest crap. Anyone could participate. ANYONE. Any program would be ok. Corel Draw? Go at it. Microsoft Word? Hey, give it a shot. I have found out from the London 2012 logo debacle that anyone can do a better version than the actual piece of shit that clients end up approving - and paying loads for.
Jetpacks: If I were running things, the logo would never have been approved. If someone from on high demanded that I launch this atrocity, I would’ve done what Pepsi has already done: send it out in some tentative “Sorry about this crap logo and repackaging, but what do YOU think?”
If the higher-ups at Pepsi needed to rebrand, why not go with that classic font and style of the glory days of Pepsi, the 1960s? Why not recall Pepsi’s grandest years, when they had a chance of beating Coke in the marketplace? This new logo is a sad and pathetic grasp at nothing. It is senseless and out of place. There is no such thing as Pepsi 2.0. Pepsi is Pepsi. Coke is Coke. And Pepsi will forever be playing catch-up with Coke.
MTLB’s offspring: Free soda. Seriously people love free. But people also complain about free stuff too, so I'd bet on it they'd complain about the packaging.
And there ya have it. Feel free to add your two cents in the comments.
(*pops open a Pepsi*)
*I. Love. This. Word.
Tags: Pepsi Cooler, #ideas4pepsicooler