New Pepsi Packaging: Fizzy or Flat?

What makes a soda brand appealing? Is it only the taste? Logo familiarity? Is design ever a reason you come back for more?

PepsiCo is trying to revitalize their brand after losing market share to Coca-Cola recently (USA Today, 2013). Pepsi just announced new packaging for their 20-ounce soda bottle. The bottle showcases a contoured bottom half, making it easier to hold and a wraparound label that is shorter so that more of the cola is visible. Sounds great, but why do we care?

Pepsi New Bottle

A spokeswoman for Pepsi explains that the new bottle shape is “part of the company’s ongoing update of marketing and packaging materials for cola” (USA Today, 2013). Sure, creating a buzz around a new bottle silhouette may be effective short-term but it’s not going to make people rush out and purchase it. There are no changes to the actual product, no green initiatives, no throw-back glass bottle — nothing new. Additionally, it will take nearly one to two years for all markets to receive and sell the new bottles.

In this case it seems lots of money is being spent on marketing efforts that may prove to be ineffective. Marketers failed on numerous levels, most obvious: connecting with consumers on an emotional level and not being uniquely inventive or innovative. I think the marketing team fell flat on this one. Unless Pepsi has a surprise for us all, I don’t think this particular change is going to improve sales or regain any loss in market share. When I decided to write about Pepsi, I wasn’t sure which direction I would go. Then I realized this marketing scheme fits well into this week’s module and the discussion of Made to Stick. PepsiCo did not communicate a new idea or make people feel something so that anyone would listen or care. The “stickiness” element that Heath & Heath mention is not looking so sticky for Pepsi or their new bottle design. Would you agree?

Perhaps they could benefit from some “Pepsi Freakout” similar to the simplistic and brilliant marketing campaign developed by Burger King. Personally, I love Diet Coke for it’s taste and familiarity but if Pepsi said tomorrow they were pulling it from shelves, I would probably freakout. It’s a brand that I’m used to, it makes me feel comfortable seeing it on shelves as an option. I think of Cindy Crawford throwing back her hair and guzzling a can of Pepsi. Most of all, it evokes memories of my childhood bestfriend who loved to drink it warm. Pepsi needs to remind people why they care about the brand and reconnect, not form a new bottle.

By Nicole Palacios

USA Today. (2013, March 22) Retrieved from

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15 Responses to New Pepsi Packaging: Fizzy or Flat?

  1. michael.david says:

    Hi Nicole, great blog. It’s funny how Pepsi’s new bottle design resembles Coke’s. Coca Cola has done massive research on the success of the hoop-skirt bottle design and they found out that people like holding the shape in their hands. By Pepsi mimicking this design shows that they are trying to capitalize this design. Pepsi has a long history of rebranding and yet as much as they do, they still don’t have the allure of Coca Cola. While Pepsi is a very popular drink, it doesn’t have the allure of Coke.

    • ncpalaci says:

      Thanks, Mike. That is pretty interesting. I don’t ever consider the shape of a bottle when selecting my soda unless it’s something completely unique like a pop-up straw or a metal design. You’re right, Pepsi doesn’t have the same allure as Coke, but I wouldn’t want the brand to disappear from the shelves. -Nicole

  2. Nikolos Gurney says:


    I have to wonder what the impetus was for the bottle change for Pepsi. While reading this I got to thinking that I don’t remember the last time I even had a Pepsi – and the new bottle design definitely isn’t making me want to run out and give it a try again. I think that underscores your point. The bottle design is a rational appeal in their marketing, and what they need is something emotional to move the product. Hopefully their marketing executives can get their heads on straight, or they are already well on their way to the same results as last year I suspect.

    • ncpalaci says:

      I completely agree, Nik. They definitely need something emotional to get people interested in wanting to purchase Pepsi again. I read that they recently signed a deal to be the sponsor for the next few Superbowls and Beyonce is supposed to appear in one of their upcoming commercials. That could work well with the younger generation. We’ll see. Thanks for your comments! -Nicole

  3. svilladelgado says:

    Hi Nicole,
    Great post! It got me thinking about other Pepsi commercials that made quite an impression on me growing up. I loved the Michael Jackson one and the Michael J. Fox one is pretty memorable as well. I found this link ( to the “The 10 Most Iconic Pepsi Commercials Of All Time” – and these are all great examples of Pepsi using commercials to engage consumers. I agree with you that the new bottle shape is not anything to write home about and it’s not going to change how I feel about the brand.
    ~ Sheila

    • ncpalaci says:

      Thanks for commenting. Yes, Michael Jackson’s commercial was a memorable one. Didn’t it get more attention too because he got hurt while filming? I mentioned to Nik (above) that Pepsi recently signed Beyonce for a new commercial. I hope this works for them. She’s popular and I think they can tie in the new shape with the singer’s curvy body and make it “cool” to drink Pepsi. We shall see! -Nicole

    • yeirang.lee says:


      Thanks for sharing the 10 most iconic Pepsi commercials. I actually switched Coca cola to Pepsi for couple years because of Britney Spears’ commercial. Pepsi used a lot of hot female celebrities like Cindy, Britney, Shakira, so I thought I would be sexy just like them if I drink Pepsi. lol.


      • ncpalaci says:


        Did you read where I told Sheila that they just signed Beyonce? I guess they do try to keep with the sexy factor 🙂

  4. HI Nicole great post. As a Coke fan, I too enjoy Pepsi-bashing. I think they haven’t done ANYTHING memorable since “The Choice of a new generation: back in the early 80s to which fellow Gen-Xers have pointed out in previous comments on your post.

    When it comes to packaging, I also agree with you. in such a commoditized market, who cares? I think their effort to revitalize the Pepsi brand among younger folks has falled terribly flat because it has taken way too long. I get this feeling every time I go to a restaurant and I see people order a coke and the server responds “we only have pepsi products” this is usually greeted with an expression of “eech, I’ll just have water, thank you” or, in the best case, “yeah, whatever, lot’s of ice, please” In any case, Pepsi’s communications are not working. Let’s see what happens with this new and upcoming generation of consumers. Cola wars, round 4.

    Thanks for a great post

    • ncpalaci says:

      Your comment made me laugh! So many of you have such strong opinions of Coke vs. Pepsi. This is serious business! Wouldn’t you care though if Pepsi went away? I like knowing it’s there. Familiarity makes me comfortable, I guess. I also thought I would fall over and die when Hostess went away, but I’m still here so maybe I’d go on after Pepsi goes under and keep sipping on my Diet Coke. Thank you for commenting on my post! -Nicole

  5. yeirang.lee says:


    Great post. First of all, I like their previous bottle design better, and they failed to attract one customer in Korea with their new design.
    In my opinion, Pepsi failed to use IMC with this campaign. Heineken introduced new design bottles last year to celebrate their 140th year. They collect designs from Heineken fans all over the world, and select 2 winners for this. This way they can get more attentions from their customers and communicate better with them.

    I agree with Nicole and Sheila that I will not go after Pepsi because of their new bottle design, so Pepsi’s marketing team definitely spent not worth of money this time.


    • ncpalaci says:

      Ohhh, I like that idea, Yeirang. That would be a neat idea and cause for some great attention directed at Pepsi. I didn’t realize Heineken had a contest like that, but what an interesting way to get many people involved on a variety of platforms. -Nicole

  6. clionberger says:

    Michael and Javi have it right — Pepsi, once again, is trying to mimic Coke.

    They’ve done this for years — trying to fight Coke using Coke-like elements. For years, Coke had the swoosh as part of the “C” in Coke. What does Pepsi do? Add a white swoosh to their circle logo.

    Unfortunately, Pepsi’s entire mentality seems bent on a “keeping up with the Joneses” approach instead of determining what makes them unique and leveraging that. Of course, I’m a huge Coke fan, though my wife likes Pepsi (I still don’t understand why). But see what I’m doing right now? I’m espousing my brand loyalty on this post. There’s what Coke has created that I don’t think Pepsi has been successful at — building brand ambassadors. So the more Pepsi tries to be Coke, the more they dilute their brand until they truly become what (at least I think) their product tastes like – watered down Coke.

    • ncpalaci says:

      Ha! Your post totally made me laugh out loud. You know, I’m pretty brand loyal myself and I don’t think I’ve noticed how hard Pepsi tries to keep up with Coke. I see Diet Coke and I just grab it. If they’ve changed the style of the bottle, I’m like, oh cool. Or I noticed the smaller cans and thought, let me buy those they are cute baby diet Cokes. Other than that, my study in bottle silhouette has been limited up until this post. Interesting! Now I’m gonna pay better attention. Thanks! -Nicole

  7. cmcoleman says:

    Hey Nicole…we picked the same topic! And I agree not sure a change in the bottle, or being able to see more of the cola in the bottle is going to cause me to rush out and buy the product.

    (But like you, I love the cute baby Diet Coke… or the Coronitas bottles…can’t resist those!)