Other brown, fizzy and overly sweet beverages are available, but these two do bestride the sector like colossi. I believe that research has demonstrated that much of their success is down to brand (and little to do with the flavour of either – though in the past, when Class A drugs were a key ingredient, this may have been less true) and this would explain their heavy use of advertising.
I generally try and eschew the dubious charms of commercial television – and in particular the commercial segments thereof – but am still aware of some of their marketing efforts.
For this thesis I will limit myself to the two companies zero calorie (or, for those of us using the SI system, zero Joule) offerings. In these products, the large volume of sugar in the traditional product is substituted with some combination of artificial sweeteners thus removing any hint of nutritional value at a stroke. The advertising for these two (superficially very similar) products is markedly different – aimed at two totally different segments of the carbonated beverage drinking public.
Diet Coke seems to be marketed at female office workers d’un certain age, consumption of the product being associated with the ladies casting their lecherous gaze over a (I assume) ruggedly handsome manual labourer. This labourer should be partially dis-robed or wet (or preferably both) and should be the only person with a Y chromosome within the office environment. This does seem to presuppose a level of gender segregation in the American office environment of which I was otherwise unaware. Women outside the office – be they housewife or high court judge – and men presumably are not expected to drink Diet Coke (or perhaps drink so much that marketing to them is a waste of time and money).
Pespi Max, on the other hand, seems to be targetting its product exclusively at young men. It used to utilise extreme sports, but has now moved in an interesting new direction. Based on their current ad campaign, the Pepsi Max drinker would seem to be unemployable (though is able to gain an interview) and unable to gain any degree of physical contact with the fairer sex. Luckily, he has two friends and between them they have some facility with the construction of elaborate scams to achieve their goals. I would suggest that our “hero” was perhaps lucky that having faked an imminent asteroid collision, the only person not to flee the bar in which this con was perpetrated was the attractive young woman whom had taken his fancy (it could so easily have been the local drunk) – but I don’t think this weakens the thrust of my argument. Pepsi Max is clearly aimed at young, socially inept and dishonest men – I presume this must be a large enough market to make national TV advertising viable.
Why do such apparently similar products have such divergent audiences – and thus by extension consumers? Is this evidence of some sort of cartel whereby the players have carved up the market between them? Is it time to bring out a brown, sweet (but energy free), fizzy drink for the woman who does not work in an office and who is attracted to thin, dry, intelligent men in glasses? I should perhaps declare an interest here…