Pepsi has a new ad slogan. And it’s already dividing opinion
Pepsi’s new global tag line is managing to divide the industry experts.
“For the Love of It” will replace “Live For Now” in 100 countries (not including the U.S.).
The soda brand launched a series of videos this week focusing on the drink’s bubbles, taste and refreshment and is working with Now United, a pop group put together by music veteran Simon Fuller, on a new jingle.
Pepsi says the tie-up and new tagline reflect a celebration of the product, an “iconic brand rooted in entertainment with a refreshing and delicious beverage people around the world love,” according to Roberto Rios, senior vice president, Marketing, Global Beverage Group at PepsiCo, in a statement emailed to CNBC.
But agencies that CNBC reached out to weren’t totally convinced about the new line.
For Sophie Lewis, chief strategy officer at WPP-owned agency VMLY&R, it is a little too reminiscent of “I’m Lovin’ It,” the line used by McDonald’s since 2003 when Justin Timberlake was paid a reported $6 million to sing it in a commercial.
But, she added, it will help to distance Pepsi from its 2017 ad starring Kendall Jenner that was pulled after a huge backlash. That ad used “Live For Now.”
“(Fuller’s) 14-strong team of global Gen Z-ers have sold their souls to Pepsi — or, rather, purely ‘For the Love of It’ they will be making sweet, Pepsi-flavored music and film,” she said in an email to CNBC Thursday.
“Pepsi has history in music and actually I think this is a clever move. Distancing yourself from Kendall Jenner-gate can only be a good thing,” she added.
One executive warned against using “it,” a word that rival Coca-Cola has used in marketing its drinks. The original Diet Coke ad used “Just for the Taste of It,” back in 1982 and revived it in 1995 and 2009, while full-sugar Coke used “Make it Real” in 2005.
David Billing, chief creative officer at agency group The Beyond Collective, noted that Pepsi has previously worked with the likes of Madonna, Beyonce, Nicki Minaj and Lady Gaga, while Michael Jackson’s first ad campaign for the drink in 1983 featured a reworked version of “Billie Jean.”
“The difference here is that those talents were real and had earned their places in the firmament without brand involvement; Pepsi just knew the right moment to strike,” Billing said in an email Thursday.
But he is less impressed with the Now United initiative. “With Fuller and Now United, this feels like an inauthentic, brand-originated music property and I wonder whether kids will see through that,” he added.
For his part, Fuller said that Pepsi and Now United both represent “positive values,” in Pepsi’s news statement, and Dylan Williams, chief strategy officer at Droga5 London, said that a sentiment like “For the Love of It” is needed in a world of divided politics.
“It is important that a brand with the global influence of Pepsi ditches its call to ‘Live for Now.’ The last thing we need is another generation raised on immediate gratification of want,” he said in an email to CNBC.
“By contrast ‘For the Love of It’ feels like the kind of rallying cry that, harnessed correctly, might help turn all the swirling hot energies and emotions out there at the moment a little more positive.”
PepsiCo’s beverages have had to deal with slowing sales and the company has put marketing dollars behind Gatorade, Pepsi and Mountain Dew. In October, its North American beverage business posted organic growth of 2.5 percent for the third quarter of 2018, up on the previous quarter which was down 1.5 percent.
For David Johnston, founder of London-based design agency Accept & Proceed, the experience of ordering a cola at a bar is still Coke-focused. “When people go the bar and ask for a coke, the usual response is still apologetically ‘It’s Pepsi … is that OK?’,” he said in an email to CNBC. “To say ‘For the love of it’ just isn’t enough because it’s not from a place of truth.”
Rios said: “‘For the love of it’ is our rallying cry, proudly saying to go all in for the things you love — from passions and interests like football and music, to unabashedly enjoying one of life’s favorite treats — Pepsi.”
New ads using the tagline are likely to air first in Latin America and Eastern Europe, Pepsi said.