When you think of cola, you naturally think of Pepsi Cola and its well-known rival Coca-Cola. These two big guns have gone toe-to-toe for over a century and are known for their iconic branding and advertising campaigns as they are for their refreshing beverages! Let’s take a look at the background of this fizzy behemoth from humble origins to the global phenomenon it is today.
Back in 1893, a North Carolina pharmacist by the name of Caleb Bradham had a soda fountain in his premises. His creation, “Brad’s Drink”, was particularly popular. This recipe included water, sugar, lemon oil, caramel, nutmeg and kola nuts along with some extra additives.
Bradham came up with a new name, “Pepsi-Cola” (taken from the medical term for indigestion “dyspepsia”), and by 1903 had trademarked the product and was successfully selling the syrup to pharmacists and various vendors across North Carolina. Naturally, the next step was franchising, and by 1910 you could find Pepsi available for sale in 24 different states across the country.
With its origins in pharmacies, Pepsi was marketed as a drink to help with digestion, but as the drink’s taste became more appealing than any potential medicinal benefits, the company altered their sales technique to attach celebrities to the brand. Starting with famous racing drivers of the 1910s and 1920s, this is a tactic that Pepsi-Cola still employ to this day, engaging pop stars and sports icons to promote the brand.
Post-War and the Dawn of a New Generation
Pepsi-Cola continued to spend heavily on creative marketing using celebrities and new media such as radio, TV and eventually internet promotions. This led to the company actually becoming bigger than their main competitor Coca-Cola. The growth also saw a boom in the UK of Pepsi available across hospitality outlets as post mix suppliers helped to get the product to a demanding customer base. The growth in popularity of mixers and cocktails also ensured that post mix suppliers were able to establish strong links between restaurant and bar owners and PepsiCo.
21st Century and Beyond
To keep up with intense competition, PepsiCo diversified with a range of flavours and alternatives. These include Diet Pepsi, non-caffeine and fruit flavourings. The rise of sports drinks has also seen Pepsi get involved with Gatorade and the Aquafina water products.