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IT'S GOT WHAT COMMUTERS CRAVE - EXCELSIOR, YOU FATHEAD!

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January 9th, 2009


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09:39 am - IT'S GOT WHAT COMMUTERS CRAVE
Pepsi's latest effort to completely plaster South Station with ads for its product (as have Apple, Dewar's, Apple, and Apple) is nothing less than a spectacular failure. For one, they're not advertising their product but the brand, and their new re-branding. I hate advertising simply a brand. I know. I am a literalist when it comes to advertising. I like being reassured that the product I am buying is good and that it will do what they say it will do, whether that promise is to taste good or or make the car go or get me clean. I'd prefer not to worship at the altar of a logo designed by committee.

Apparently, however, Pepsi loves it when people do just that, and they are so worried that nobody will take a shine to its new Obama-like Yes We Aluminum Can globe logo -- which I shall now refer to as (/) -- that they have decided to plaster South Station big bright cheerful banners displaying big bright cheerful colors and big bright cheerful words, and stick the (/) in the words where the Os should be. At no time do they think to ask us where we think they should stick the (/), which may actually be the only smart thing they've done here.

The most glaring problem shows up in the Big Room of South Station, where there are humongous banners the size of pickup trucks emblazoned simply with the word P(/)P. Did Pepsi neglect to do any kind of market research before throwing these banners all around? This is New England. The preferred nomenclature, Dude, is "soda". If you're a truly hardcore New Englander and do your shopping at spas, however, you'll call it "tonic" and even that's still a far cry from "pop". Maybe there was a mixup and the "S(/)DA" banners were accidentally sent to Minneapolis where right now someone is sitting at their keyboard, scratching their head, and writing "What the heck?"

The argument could be made that they're trying to convey "P(/)P ART", but if so, it's not very good art. All kinds of happy happy joy joy phrases shine around the station, from "H(/)(/)RAY" to "JUMP F(/)R J(/)Y" to the enigmatic "L(/)VETC." That last one is a real mind-boggler, honestly. I can't tell if it's a concession to someone in Marketing who just couldn't bear to see the word L(/)VE go out on its own, or if it's someone's blasé suggestion for the list: "Yeah, don't forget to include Love or somesuch bull. You know, love, etc. Blah blah blah." (I am told LOVETC. is a fine romantic comedy though, but I'd probably only watch it if it was the only inflight movie available to me and I had finished my airplane book already.)

Criminy, whatever happened to the simple and catchy "Pepsi-Cola hits the spot"? (It probably went to the same place where people still consider twelve full ounces as "that's a lot". I don't think anybody drinks under 64 fluid ounces these days. Beverage Boy certainly doesn't.)

They also came up with the brilliant idea of sticking signs reading MAMB(/) and TANG(/) on the escalator hallway, and putting cute little dance step charts on the floor. Look! Pepsi says. We made an interactive ad! People will come from all over to try out the dance steps on the floor and giggle a l(/)t! It's so clever, we could just hug (/)urselves!

Clever it might be, but they put these dance charts at the bottom of the escalators. Yeah. Just think about it for a moment, and then insert your face snugly into the center of your outstretched palm. Maybe they thought they could shut off the escalators and turn them into dance chart lines. I dunno.

All logistical idiocy aside, the chief failing of the BIG HAPPY W(/)RDS campaign is its irony-free simplicity. We are not bombarded with BUY BUY BUY as we stroll through South Station trying to avoid as much eye contact as possible, but instead with bright reassuring colors and HAPPY words. It feels like a brainwashing straight out of a future dystopia. Like we're wearing Rowdy Roddy Piper's sunglasses from They Live, only instead of tinted dark they've got those hippy prism overlays on them to make everything look shiny and happy. Pepsi knows the average commuter's state of being by the time they make it to South Station -- numb, slackjawed, zombielike, and that's both coming and going -- so the ad placement ensures we'll absorb these messages better. Grunt. Gnrrr. That sign says X(/)X(/)X(/). Whatevszzzzzzzzzzzzz.

I'm sure these signs will eventually be replaced by something equally as inane or moreso, but right now, man, do they suck out loud. Just wanted to let you all know.

Me, I drink Diet Dr. Pepper. But only because the TV told me to.

(34 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


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From:bostonista
Date:January 9th, 2009 03:19 pm (UTC)
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Of course, the brand's so big that there won't ever be an appreciable dip in sales unless, say, the product is contaminated. A bad ad campaign won't leave a scratch, so you can bet that whichever ad agency developed this dreck is hugging itself with glee at its own cleverness. Ignorance is bliss.
[User Picture]
From:xiphias
Date:January 9th, 2009 03:20 pm (UTC)
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The rebranding of Tropicana (which, I hadn't realized, is distributed by Pepsi, so is part of this whole disaster) is even worse. I saw a couple people at the supermarket go to the orange juice section, go to the Tropicana, pick up a carton, look at it, look worried, turn it over and stare at it . . . then put it down and go for another brand.

Someone on my friends list says he saw a store with ALL the orange juice sold out, except the Tropicana section, which was completely full. Previous to the rebranding, the Tropicana sold out first.
[User Picture]
From:amandaruth2001
Date:January 9th, 2009 03:35 pm (UTC)
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I didn't know what it was. I bought one of the older cartons instead because i was sure I was getting orange juice. The new cartons look like they're really bad store brands.
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From:markm
Date:January 9th, 2009 03:54 pm (UTC)
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I think "tonic" (or "tawnic" to be precise), is probably closer to the Boston/Cambridge/Chelsea tri-city area. I just hear "soda" out here in the boonies of Westford. Also, there are no (/) signs in Westford, so I consider myself lucky.


Also, also, there's no . in Dr Pepper
[User Picture]
From:wellstar
Date:January 9th, 2009 09:13 pm (UTC)
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Also, also, there's no . in Dr Pepper

I always remember this fun fact from my friend Seth's honorable mention in my favorite Washington Post humor contest.
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From:lexinatrix
Date:January 9th, 2009 04:02 pm (UTC)
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Maybe there was a mixup and the "S(/)DA" banners were accidentally sent to Minneapolis where right now someone is sitting at their keyboard, scratching their head, and writing "What the heck?"

I lol'd.

Now I'll be scouring the local blogosphere for any mention of this and report forthwith when the 'what the heck?' starts happening.
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From:susskins
Date:January 9th, 2009 05:41 pm (UTC)
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The big billboard on I-94 in Minneapolis is "S(/)DY P(/)P". So apparently we got the ones designated for Memphis.
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:vanguardcdk
Date:January 9th, 2009 04:20 pm (UTC)
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The first ad I noticed was the "Tang" one. with the color scheme and all I thought maybe they were launching some sort of citrus pepsi thing. Then I saw the mambo one and it fell into place.

Of course being from the midwest I was rather happy to see the 'pop' ones. ;)
[User Picture]
From:hemlock_martini
Date:January 9th, 2009 04:20 pm (UTC)
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That whole campaign sounds like P(/)(/)P.
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From:cheezdanish
Date:January 9th, 2009 08:52 pm (UTC)
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A++
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From:saint_buddha
Date:January 9th, 2009 05:32 pm (UTC)
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The first few signs you have described are the same as the national television campaign. Laziness FTW!
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From:ron_newman
Date:January 9th, 2009 05:36 pm (UTC)
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This is actually Part 2 of derspatchel's dysPepsia series. If you missed Part 1, read it here.
[User Picture]
From:ivorjawa
Date:January 9th, 2009 05:49 pm (UTC)
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You know, the Coke logo was designed in 1885 and is largely unchanged.
Rebranding == fail.
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From:fancycwabs
Date:January 9th, 2009 06:44 pm (UTC)
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Shit. I need some V(/)DKA.
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From:unferth
Date:January 9th, 2009 07:12 pm (UTC)
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The billboard down by JFK/Umass says "S(/)weet".

"Soweet"? That's not even a word!
From:(Anonymous)
Date:January 9th, 2009 07:57 pm (UTC)
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Maybe they're referencing the tattoo scene from that movie with Ashton Kutcher and Seann Williamm Scottt.

D(/)(/)D! What's mine say?

S(/)weet! What's mine say?

D(/)(/)D! What's mine say?

S(/)weet! What's mine say?

D(/)(/)D! What's mine say?

S(/)weet! What's mine say?
[User Picture]
From:cheezdanish
Date:January 9th, 2009 08:56 pm (UTC)
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I was just talking about this the other day with Del. What I don't understand is why some people get so worked up over a rebranding/redesigning of corporate labels. (Not you, Bobby, as this is a JEEZUS GET IT OUT OF MY FACE rant as opposed to a HOW DARE THOSE NUMBNUTS AT PEPSICO DEPRIVE US OF OUR BELOVED OLD LOGO rant.)

There was a thread on SA a few weeks back about this, full of comments along the lines of "Ugh, I hate it, it's ugly, they should just stick with the old one, now I won't buy Pepsi just because of the logo."

wat no seriously wat?
From:(Anonymous)
Date:January 9th, 2009 09:58 pm (UTC)

Re-Branding

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From what I've seen, re-branding almost always sucks. And fails. You lose too many of your faithful to make up for however many come on board.

Where's R.C. Cola when you need 'em?

Suldog
http://jimsuldog.blogspot.com
[User Picture]
From:beth47
Date:January 9th, 2009 10:54 pm (UTC)
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L(/)L?
(Deleted comment)
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From:spwebdesign
Date:January 10th, 2009 01:00 am (UTC)
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Wait, Pepsi is now advertising for Tango? Aren't they, like, direct competitors or something?

What about using "S(/)FT DRINK"? Or "C(/)LA"? Or, if they wanted more pathetic attempts to seem kool, "K(/)LA"!

Speaking of rebranding, I googled for the url to the Tango website, and instead of the familiar "G" we've all come to know and, um, love, Google was using some weird multicolored new curvy logo. WTF, I think this PEPSI P(/)P thing is contagious!

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