Stella Berry

Published in: Branding in Asia on Friday 22nd November 2019

Author: Stella Berry, Regional Business Director at Adludio


The evergreen battle between two of the biggest soda companies in the world, Pepsi vs Coca-Cola, is an education in how to deal with competition. The ongoing rivalry is fun to watch and, for marketers and brands, it serves as an important reminder to bring our thinking back to a consumer point of view.

Take a look at this ad, one of my favourites from the rivalry, that is equal parts honest and clever and a nice rib from one side to the other in the pair’s ongoing battle.


As an industry, we’re prone to developing a singular way of thinking. We’re used to approaching campaigns from an advertiser standpoint. However, once we take off our work hats, we often forget that we operate quite differently as a consumer and that’s all too often a disconnect between expectation and reality.

A consumer’s experience isn’t governed by the things that we as marketers constantly obsess over, such as brand loyalty, formats or channels. Instead, their journey forms one meandering experience crossing screens, brands and platforms. For the consumer, brands all exist concurrently within the consumer ecosystem, and it’s never a case of one brand or the other.

Competition will always exist, so what should marketers do?

This ad shows us the outcome of being brave enough to embrace it. And when executed cleverly, in the case of Pepsi vs Coke, the result is a brilliant, suspenseful, and tasteful TVC that we can all laugh at and enjoy.

Very few monopolies exist in this world. As technological capabilities develop, barriers to entry become smaller and competition gets more intense. It takes a lot of guts for a brand to respectfully poke fun at its competitors without “stepping” on their toes (pun intended in the case of the ad above).

Drawing upon my own observations at Adludio, we operate in a space that’s filled to the brim with endless possibilities of solutions available to brands. This begs the age-old question: how should companies differentiate themselves?

Pepsi vs Coke serves as a good lesson for all marketers. No doubt we’re skilled at talking about our own product or service. Hand us the mic and we can talk about what makes us or our clients the best.

But how many of us can talk about their relationship with the other companies that exist in the same space? While it takes skill to be able to confidently talk about competitors, we needn’t be afraid to acknowledge that there might be people who do some things better than we can. We need to be able to use the strengths of our competitors as a tool to help us position ourselves.

The competition will always exist, but we have our own unique arsenal of strengths that have brought us this far and earned us a loyal customer base. This ad serves as a reminder that while Coke is the number one brand, Pepsi still has a massive fanbase, demonstrating the benefits of competition, that with all options available, there is something for every consumer palate.

And in the end, we cannot hate competition nor pretend that they don’t exist. Whether we’re a Coke or a Pepsi, we just need to trust that our customers love us for what we are.