The Cola Wars: What’s in a Can?

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Green Cans

Is there any bigger rivalry than that between Pepsi and Coca-Cola? The seemingly age-old soda wars started in the ‘80s when the beverage companies Coca-Cola and PepsiCo started pitting against each other in terms of marketing and advertising tactics to gain the upper ground in revenue and popularity. Three decades later, the two soft drink giants are still at it. With all the celebrity endorsements and the growth of social media that give people an avenue to voice their opinions, it looks like the wars are never going to end.

The scrabble for soda dominance continues, as advertising geniuses behind both Coca-Cola and Pepsi come up with more innovative ways of branding. Who would forget the following famous slogans from Coca-Cola?

  • “Coke Is It!” (1982)
  • “You Can’t Beat the Feeling” (1988)
  • “Official Soft Drink of Summer” (1989)
  • “You Can’t Beat the Real Thing” (1990)
  • “AlwaysCoca-Cola” (1993)
  • “Open Happiness” (2009)

And from Pepsi:

  • “Catch That Pepsi Spirit” (1980)
  • “Pepsi. The Choice of a New Generation” (1984 and 1990)
  • “The Choice Is Yours” (1992)
  • “Generation Next” (1997)
  • “More Happy” (2007)
  • ”Change The Game” (2012)

Coca Cola, Pepsi Logo

The scrabble for the best cola title also brought forth many changes in the logos of both soda bigwigs:

But perhaps the most marked advertising method that both Coca-Cola and Pepsi advertisers have employed is the evolution of their packaging, especially that of the soda can. From Pepsi’s can that came with the cone top and bottle cap and Coca-Cola’s flat  design, the soda can has come a long way.

Pepsi Coca Cola Cans

The latest cola cans come in minimalistic packaging, with their signature colors at the background and their logos sitting prominently for branding. While Coca-Cola has maintained its iconic Coca-Cola script and swoosh, Pepsi has shown a very noticeable change in the evolution of its cans for both its logo and font, as if the packaging designers cannot seem to settle on a design that would fully embody what Pepsi is all about. Small wonder that Coca-Cola won the Inaugural Brand Icon Award in 2013 from the CLIO Awards, the global competition for advertising, design and communications.

Both drinks have also released 7.5 ounce mini-cans, in their effort to remain relevant in this day and age when healthy eating and healthy lifestyle are all the rage. Following a similar kind of packaging to the regular ones, the mini-cans are two-thirds less the size of regular cans.

In a similar thread, both Coca-Cola and Pepsi have formulated a new type of cola that aims to target health buffs, as they are made with stevia, a plant extract, a natural sweetener; they therefore contain less sugar. Strategically named Coca-Cola Life (for healthy lifestyle) and Pepsi True (as opposed to what is not), these two new colas come in surprising, almost shocking packaging – green cans.

Green Cans

While Coca-Cola retains the same script and swoosh (with the addition of the word “Life” above the swoosh) for its latest can, Pepsi has again made some difference to its packaging design. Although Pepsi maintained the same font style, it has changed the orientation of the brand name and changed the font size, putting more emphasis on the word “TRUE.”

Whether the cans be blue, red or green, whether the font styles change or the logos stay the same, one thing is certain: the battle for the best cola will continue for a long, long time.