Soda Jerks: Why Pepsi drinkers might need an attitude adjustment
For years, the so-called cola wars raged (as much as any intrinsically corporate conflict can “rage”) with each side claiming wins and making gains at the other guy’s expense. Recently though, Pepsi took a hard shot to the chin as they saw themselves demoted to the number three position behind Coca-Cola twice, (Coke was #1 and Diet Coke was #2). I’d say the wars continue.
Anyway, the article made me wonder why I even bother to prefer one over the other. They’re both basically the same – HFCS sugar water with bubbles in it. The can colors are different but enough style variations exist between the product lines that that can’t be the sole reason for anyone to choose one. Why would my forty-year old self even care to continue supporting one cola over another? Considering the column you’re reading you can probably guess where I’m headed with this.
Advertising is always a factor but both have been aggressive as hell over the years when it came to pushing their brands. To a brand, Coke and Pepsi have both had some pretty cool commercials that I can honestly say impressed me equally. I liked the Coke ads as much as the Pepsi ones, and hated certain Coke ads just as much as certain Pepsi ones too. So what breaks the tie? What leaves me siding with one over the other? I think it’s the delivery guys.
Everyone has seen the Coke-Pepsi delivery guy ads. It’s a sort of mini blue-collar soap opera (created by Pepsi) featuring a couple of regular Joe soda delivery guys from each company that come together in various humorous ways. I enjoyed them when I first saw them because, as shots in a war, they were pretty well-done. Nice, sharp punches in the mouth are hard to denigrate. Over the years the spots have changed slightly, as have the men acting in them, but the conceit remained that the Pepsi guy will always stand by his drink while the Coke guy is desperate to change. And I’m fine with that. But the subconscious part of the spot that only just occurred to me is that the Pepsi guy always – always – turns out to be a jerk.
In the classic original, set to The Youngbloods song Get Together, the Coke delivery guy and the Pepsi delivery guy bond in a diner over shared appreciation of a song, family photos and a tough work schedule. After much laughter and a few back slaps the Coke guy offers some of his drink to the Pepsi guy, who in turn offers his brand back. Both smile but the Coke guy wants to keep the drink offered and Pepsi guy goes all Chris Brown on his butt as the pair smash through the window of the diner fighting. Seems to me the jerk in that spot is pretty clear.
Flash forward to last year. The fight is between Coke Zero and Pepsi Max. Back in a diner, back with two new delivery guys. Just like before, each try the other guy's drink but when the Coke guy drinks up and appears to be enjoying his Pepsi the delivery man goes and films him with his phone and then posts it to YouTube. What a dink! I mean c’mon, everyone knows that war is war but that scene is a clear battle truce where the Pepsi guy hauls off and shoots his warrior brother in the face. What’s the deal with that? This is why I choose Coke – ‘cause Pepsi is a drink for jerks.
Back in 2007 an impossible-to-resist news story dropped where a couple of delivery drivers – one for Coke and one for Pepsi - had a smack down at some Wal-Mart in Indiana County. Apparently, the Pepsi guy called the Coke guy over and then proceeded to beat the living crap out of him. Is this life imitating art or something deeper? Could it actually be that Pepsi partakers are simply bigger jerks than Coke consumers? I don’t know but I’m sure starting to have suspicions.