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Pepsi Learns From Branding Mistakes
By: Jeff Louis
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Pepsi's CEO Indray Nooyi admitted PepsiCo made some mistakes when the company released a new branded look for their beverage lines in 2009. According to AdAge, Nooryi "is ready to close the book on the difficulties" the beverage business has met over the past year and looks to improve.

Sounds like something a college student in Branding 101 would say; she's the CEO of Pepsi. If the company's marketing director voiced these same words, he or she would be looking for a new job. When the words come from the company's CEO, you have to wonder how much longer she will hold Pepsi's top post.  

Nooryi also admitted she learned of some news through various publications.

"It's unfortunate because some of the stuff I read about I didn't even know about," she admitted. "But, you know what, it happened. When you have high-profile agencies these things happen."

Pepsi has been criticized for their beverage line re-brand that began in 2009 for numerous reasons. Tropicana, Pepsi's juice line, received a face-lift that made the high-profile beverages look like generic brands. The original packaging was re-instituted due to a 20 percent plunge in sales.

Sierra Mist also received two brand makeovers due to falling sales. The first effort tried to capitalize on the word "Mist" by using a misty (blurry) typeface; it looked as if the word "Mist" was out of register or had been printed incorrectly. Cans were out of register.

The Arnell Group handled the re-branding efforts.

AdBrands.com describes Arnell as a creative shop that manages strategic brand planning, product design, and event  marketing for large companies. The company is a vehicle for the diverse talents of its founder and CEO, Peter Arnell. Omnicom bought Arnell in 2001. 

Arnell, in a candid statement, criticized his own work.

“It’s not my brand," he said of Tropicana. "It’s not my company. So what the hell? I got paid a lot of money, and I have 30 other projects. You move on.”

Pepsi fell victim to their own mistakes. Rather than re-branding a single product line and testing the new looks, the company made numerous changes over a short time period. Nooryi stated an internal buy-in was important and marked that as the first lesson Pepsi learned. In hindsight, she would have ensured the internal management structure was up to the challenge.

Pepsi's sport drink, Gatorade, also received a new look that was bashed by consumers and the advertising industry. Although Gatorade is the top brand in the category, it's been besieged by criticism. Nooryi said the details were important, even in the face of a major overhaul. 

However, Ms. Nooryi also announced that while there were a lot of mistakes, the strategy is beginning to pay off, a trend that she believes will continue. 


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About the Author

Jeff Louis: Media Planner, Brand Project Manager, blogger, and aspiring writer. Please leave a comment or get in touch with Jeff on Twitter. As always, thank you for reading!

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