Coke or Pepsi – Does it really matter?

100 years and more, but still going strong. It’s the rivalry between Coke and Pepsi, I’m talking about. The fight for market share between the cola giants looks like a never-ending one. Though Coke leads Pepsi in the carbonated drinks category, PepsiCo’s diversification into health drinks and snack foods, helped it to surpass Coca-Cola in market capitalization recently. It’s sports drink, Gatorade and fruit juice brand Tropicana are doing much better than the PowerAde and Minute Maid brands of Coke. And as far as it’s snack division – Frito Lay – is considered, it still enjoys monopoly status without any major competition.

Cola majors not only matches each other fizz for fizz in terms of brand choices but they also fight tooth and nail in the ad world too. If Pepsi casts Sachin and Saurav in their show to do the acting and dancing, then Coke selects Hrithik and Aishwarya to do the batting and bowling for them. And these companies also spend huge sum of money to get the official sponsor tag in major global sports events. And the loser sometimes ends up winning, as in the case of cricket world cup-96 ,when Pepsi’s ‘Nothing official about it’ tagline created more attention than the official sponsor Coke. But this season it is Pepsi who won the official sponsor for the 2006 world cup cricket. Now that ICC has a clause to protect its sponsors from ambush marketing, it would be interesting to see Coke’s marketing tactics.

But whether all those multi million dollar fights, to make you and me choose between a Coke and Pepsi really worth? Unlike tea or coffee, cola beverages are not consumed in the home regularly. It is in the cinema halls and while dining in quick service restaurants most people have developed the habit of going for that sweetened carbonated beverage. But do people actually have a choice when they really want to quench their thirst with a soda soft drink?

One may choose between a pizza and a burger for dinner, but will they keep in mind about Pepsi or Coke while taking that decision? It is the choice of the restaurants that eventually force people to have a Coke or Pepsi. Dominos serves coke with its pizza, while in Pizza Hut you can get only Pepsi. If you prefer to have a McChicken Burger in McDonalds you’ll get only coke, or if you move to KFC for a Zinger Burger you’ll end up having only Pepsi. Inox theatres in Chennai Citi Center sells only coke in its snacks counter, will anyone prefers to go to Satyam Cinemas instead, just because they sell Pepsi?

So making a choice between Pepsi and Coke normally won’t arise, as it is always forced upon due to the availability factor based on our other preferences. Yet the cola companies didn’t like to unite and fight even during their bad times in the pesticide controversy issue. Such is their rivalry. A century long bitterness won’t go away that easily even if it makes economic sense, right? OK, just few more days for the world cup, all we can do is relax and enjoy, as the cola majors’ll be getting ready to entertain us with their new ad wars.


  1. The only place where you have a choice but then yet again is limited is a local general store where both the brands are sold – So it would be interesting to see the share of sales from such stores vis-a-vis sales from other channels (like the ones you have mentioned).

    Of course there are times when even stores are bought over by Pepsi or Coke – giving them freebies like a refrigerator, racks or more such items. In which case there is no multiple choice – JUST ONE PEPSI OR COKE.

    And why these companies advertise so much – Every kid in town knows that by now – YAAR brand re-call is chaiye …warna people will forget us. Well, let’s see who remembers what this world cup!


  2. Siva Rajendran says:

    Kapil, Thanks for your comments.

  3. It is not just excessive advertisements, but a cycle of murders that help them keep afloat in the market….
    check this out

  4. Anonymous says:

    Time to Curb ADs During Cricket Telecast

    The amount of advertising on TV during cricket matches is shameful. The situation is not likely to improve until ICC takes a leaf from FIFA and sets ad standards for cricket telecast.

    To begin with, a few simple guidelines must be enforced rightaway:
    1) No two advertising slots should be closer (to each other) than 4 minutes. This will ensure that the stupid ads are not repeatedly seen in the following scenarios:
    a) A wicket falls on the 4th or 5th delivery (ads come up again at the end of the over). b) Wickets fall in consecutive deliveries (or a W-Dot-W sequence etc) c) When spinners are operating at both ends etc.

    2) No advertising during brief stoppages of play during: replacement of ball, batsman adjusting his gear, fielder requesting helmet, a bowler remarking his run-up in the middle of the over, sight-screen being adjusted etc. The telecast coverage during these incidents is actually interesting to the viewer

    3) Ads must be cut in only after the over has COMPLETELY ENDED (and the ball is dead) and the scoreboard is being shown. During recent events especially during world cup 2007, the telecast managers most blatantly did not wait for the commentrators cue at the end of the over to cut in the ads. Ads were thrust on the viewers even BEFORE the ball was completely fielded and the score updated and shown. This is a new disease which was not pervalent earlier. All pretense towards class, standards and quality has been thrown to the winds and abandoned in the sole pursuit of ad revenue.

    4) No scrolling pop-up style banner ads should be permitted at the top (or bottom or sides etc.). During this world cup many a time including the semi-finals and the finals the batsmans head was cut-off (obscured) by these ads at the moment of playing the shot. Such is the shabby nature of coverage, my friends.

    5) No teaser (extremely short duration) ads should be allowed. During the DLF cup sometime ago every ad slot started and ended with an extremely short ad for Dyna Soap (Dyna, Be like a lady…the allusion was to Lady Diana and her death) with two longer duration ads thrown in between. It was so repetitive that it became downright sick after some time. All ads must be prescreened for suitability and should be such that they blend with the telecast in terms of tone and content and do not jar the viewer (Admen would obviously not agree with this..)

    Anywhere else in the world (both cricket and other sports) the telecast managers would find it difficult to be in business with the current standard of coverage. The viewing public would ensure that. Standard setters would have wisely set the standards at a (very) high level ahead of the fact (and not after the fact). Technically, of course the cricket telecast (during actual play, i.e. when the batsman is playing the shot, run-out replays etc.) is excellent but the overall experience for the viewer is downright shoddy.

    One adhoc solution is to put the TV on mute and listen to the radio commentary in conjunction with the telecast where possible. I wish someone would develop an ad stripping chip which could be fit on the TV.

    In fact in some indirect way, this fundamental lack of desire for quality in ALL aspects is resposible for India’s poor showing in Cricket of late and sports in general.

    Sudarshan Lakvalli

  5. Anonymous says:

    FIFA world cup – Two sessions of 45 to 47 minutes of UNINTERRUPTED football telecast with a ten minute half time break. All ads are shown either during half time break or before or after the game !!!! Unfortunately Cricket will never be able to match this. A pay-per-view channel in the future may be one solution – the other an ad stripping TV chip (will someone get to work on this please…)


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