Pepsi trolls Coca-Cola again in provocative new campaign

An advert for Pepsi Max Australia that shows a Coca-Cola can with the phrase 'OK' visible
(Image credit: Pepsi Max Australia)

Pepsi vs Coke is the biggest battle in soft drinks, and Pepsi's just launched another salvo. Its 'Tastes OK' campaign in Australia is a twist on the existing 'Tastes Better' tagline, which has made some clever use of optical illusions in the past to find the Pepsi logo hiding in the packaging of brands the stock its rival.

This time, it aims to point out a design flaw of sorts in Coca-Cola's own logo and packaging: the phrases 'OK' hidden in plain sight in the Coke name. Why settle for 'OK' when you could choose Pepsi Max?, the campaign invites people to ask themselves.

An advert for Pepsi Max Australia that shows a Coca-Cola can with the phrase 'OK' visible

(Image credit: Pepsi Max Australia)

The campaign covers OOH ads, print and social. Creative directors Simon Gibson and Nils Eberhardt from the creative agency Special said in a release: “Getting briefed to work on the ‘Tastes Better’ campaign is exciting and intimidating in equal measure. It’s such a bold and direct line and it’s led to great work in the past, so we all knew we needed to do something that lived up to it. Then, our competitor did it for us. We saw an image they put out into the world and noticed something we couldn’t unsee.”

Vandita Pandey, chief marketing officer Australia and New Zealand for snacks and beverages at PepsiCo, said, “We have long known that Pepsi Max tastes better than our main competitor and this latest campaign helps us reinforce our position as a challenger brand."

It's bold and amusing, but it's also a risky strategy. It gives a lot of exposure to the rival brand in that Coca-Cola actually appears more visibly than Pepsi in the ads. So firmly adopting the position of a challenge brand is also risky in itself.  It puts Pepsi in danger of becoming Burger King, which seems to spend most of its marketing energy and budget on trolling McDonald's rather than on establishing its own identity.

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Joseph Foley

Joe is a regular freelance journalist and editor at Creative Bloq. He writes news and features, updates buying guides and keeps track of the best equipment for creatives, from monitors to accessories and office supplies. A writer and translator, he also works as a project manager at London and Buenos Aires-based design, production and branding agency Hermana Creatives, where he manages a team of designers, photographers and video editors who specialise in producing photography, video content, graphic design and collaterals for the hospitality sector. He enjoys photography, particularly nature photography, wellness and he dances Argentine tango.