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Most of us grew up with the cola wars. Coke vs. Pepsi. But an interesting thing happened this past year. Coke increased its dominance in the market and Pepsi fell back. In fact, Pepsi fell out of the #2 position in sales and now is #3 behind Coke and Diet Coke. So what changed? Up until 2010, Coke and Pepsi were two of the biggest television advertisers in the country. Despite household name recognition and brand awareness, both giants continued their branding and marketing campaigns at similar levels. Recently, however, that changed. Pepsi decided to experiment with a groundbreaking campaign called “Pepsi Refresh.” Instead of spending $20 million dollars on television advertising, as it always had, it put the money into social media, like Facebook. They pushed the money down to grass roots levels and let local communities decide how to spend the money to benefit their local communities. Pepsi got a ton of publicity for its efforts. Social Media lit up. Trade magazine and industry experts called it a “textbook plan” for social media that would be the blueprint of other companies. The problem? It didn’t work. While certainly good things came out of it, Pepsi sales fell 2.6 percent. Diet Coke passed up Pepsi as the second most bought cola. So, ask yourself the real question here. What’s the purpose of advertising? Is it really about impressing your peers? Or is really about sales? About making the cash register ring? About making sure when people need what you have, they think of you first? By every measure except one, the Pepsi marketing approach was a huge win. Unfortunately, where it feel short – product sales – is the only one that really mattered. It may be tempting to experiment with your advertising. In fact, we think a little of that is a good idea. You should always be testing some things. But before you do, always make sure you’ve got your base covered first. Despite the buzz about new things, traditional media still works. TV’s in 99% of all homes. People watch an average of 300+ minutes of TV every day. TV is the most persuasive, most influential, and where people learn about brands. It’s the most efficient delivery system for advertisers ever invented. In short, TV works. Moving dollars out of television – the only mass medium remaining – and moving them wholesale to the hot new thing is a huge risk. Can you afford to risk your business?

Coke vs. Pepsi  

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