Pepsi is a household name in the soda industry. Whether you are a team Pepsi or a team Cocoa Cola person, you recognize the label and you’ve tasted it before. Pepsi has been around for a while… But, there are some things you still might not know about it. Here are 10 neat facts about Pepsi!
10. It was originally called “Brad’s Drink”
Pepsi was invented by a guy named Caleb Davis Bradham. A trim looking fellow with a fashionable moustache and a big forehead. He was a druggist, or you could call him an apothecary, or as we like to say today, a pharmacist. He lived in New Bern, North Carolina, and released his very own soda fountain beverage in 1893. He called it “Brad’s Drink” and it was very popular. It was made and sold from his own drugstore. It contained a mixture of sugar, water, caramel, lemon oil, kola nuts, nutmeg, and some other secret additives. By the summer of 1903 his drink had consumers hooked! He was selling it to other pharmacists, who were in turn selling it in their stores. Caleb Bradham wanted a snappier name, so he changed it to Pepsi-Cola. He trademarked the name, clever fella, and brought it to even more vendors across North Carolina. The expansion of his business happened very quickly. By 1910 he had brought Pepsi to twenty-four States! Not only was this a major accomplishment, but it was also done very well. He set up franchisers who were allowed to sell the products themselves, making their own little profit. There you go! What we now know as Pepsi was once called “Brad’s Drink,” but that did not last very long!
9. The First Celebrity who Endorsed Pepsi was Barney Oldfield
When Pepsi was first launched, as “Brad’s Drink” it was being sold in pharmacies. It was marketed as a product that would aid digestive issues. The drink’s slogan was: “Exhilarating, Invigorating, Aids Digestion.” Not catchy at all right? It doesn’t even rhyme! If a slogan is going to be listing stuff off and ending in a miniature indication of the products abilities, you would think at least it would be memorable enough to stay stuck in your head. This was not memorable. The slogan and the intended usage of the product also narrowed the target audience and was slowing sales. In 1913 Pepsi-Cola sought to rectify this problem by removing the digestion slogan and hiring Barney Oldfield. Barney Oldfield was a racecar driver who changed the racing world. Apparently his name was “synonymous with speed.” He was the first man to drive a car on a circular track at sixty miles per hour, which is ninety-six kilometers per hour. Though that may seem like nothing to us now, it was pretty wild at the time! He raced between 1902 and 1918. During that time he earned a suspension for outlaw racing and participated in the “Championship of the Universe” race in which he won $250,000. He was a force to be reckoned with! By partnering with Barney Oldfield Pepsi-Cola was able to attack a much wider audience than they had previously been able. Barney Oldfield was cool, hip, kind of a bad boy, who raced fast cars and looked good doing it. Boys wanted to be him, men envied him, and women loved him. Since this every first celebrity endorsement the company has been able to secure numerous others. Fame and Pepsi seen to go hand in hand.
8. Pepsi-Cola went bankrupt
Woah… it almost sounds blasphemous having “Pepsi” and “Bankrupt” in the same sentence right? Pepsi’s current fame and stable presence on the market would never have you thinking that the drink and its owner once filed for bankruptcy; but it happened. To be fair it was not all Caleb Bradham’s fault. As an owner, he had so many good choices for his soft drink. He changed its name to something really catchy, got franchisers to sell the item, and brought the product into many American stores. This all sounds great… Like Caleb Bradham and his drink were on the proper path to success. They were. Tthey would have done super well had it not been for the war. The First World War happened and ruined so many businesses. Wartime caused prices on sugar to rise. The world’s supply for the commodity fell by 20% during the war time years. Despite his best efforts at playing the market Caleb Bradham went bankrupt in 1923. That could have been it… That could have been the end of Pepsi-Cola. Imagine a world where Pepsi doesn’t exist… Pretty crazy. But Mr. Bradham kept fighting for his drinks survival. Bringing it to investor after investor until finally in 1931 it was bought by Loft Candy Co.
7. Coca-Cola nearly Acquired Pepsi-Cola
Once Loft Candy Co. had bought Pepsi-Cola the Great Depression hit. Charles. G. Guth, the president of the company, tried his best to sell the drink to a very dry market. During his struggles he was approached by Coca-Cola who offered to take the drink off of his hands. Obviously, the offer was refused and Charles Guth continued to struggle throughout the Depression. His tactic was to sell the soda in twelve ounce bottles for just five cents. This was an incredible deal. At the time, Coke was being sold in six ounce bottles for the same price. Pepsi boasted, saying they could give customers “twice as much for a nickel.” They even made a “Nickel Nickel” radio jingle that was broadcast from coast to coast and recorded into fifty-five different languages. Now, that is a strong come back!
6. Joan Crawford and Pepsi have a Long History
Joan Crawford was an American Actress best known for Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, Sudden Fear, and Mildred Pierce. Her work in Mildred Pierce won her an Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role in 1946. She was a beautiful and edgy film star, had a contract with MGM, and a total of four husbands. Why does her marital status matter? Well, that is how she first became connected to Pepsi-Cola. In 1955 she married Alfred Steele (her fourth and final husband), who was then an executive at the company. Throughout their marriage Alfred would go on to climb the corporate ladder of Pepsi-Cola; moving up to President, being named Chairman of the Board, and then CEO. Since she was a famous actress Pepsi-Cola used her to market their product. She traveled extensively for the company and was said to tout the soft drink at social functions. When her husband died in 1959 the company tried to break their ties with Joan. Joan shared this information with Louella Parsons, a movies columnist and screen writer, and Pepsi immediately took her back by giving her a seat on their Board of Directors. In February of 1963 Pepsi awarded Joan the “Pally Award” for her major influence in the public’s contribution to sales. In 1973 Joan Crawford was forced to retire from the company. Though this does seem sad, and it is, it was all done in Pepsi’s undying desire to stay hip and current. Joan Crawford was no longer appealing to a wide audience and Pepsi let her go. They did not do it in the best way and for that we give them a big thumbs down. Apparently, she found out by reading the financial section of The New York Times. Come on… have the decency to let a girl go with class and consideration. That being said, customers should commend the company for doing their best to remain appealing and honor their public. Pepsi is not afraid to make tough calls and that is pretty admirable.
5. Cardi B’s Super Bowl Commercial was a Political Statement
When Colin Kaepernick kneeled during the anthem it caused a whole stir. President Donald Trump was very vocal about his thoughts on the matter and so were numerous celebrities. At the VMA’s Cardi B shouted “Colin Kaepernick, as long as you kneel with us, we’ll be standing by you, baby.” When it came time for the Super Bowl to announce who would be performing during the half time show there were some rumors that it would be Cardi B. She stopped this right away by saying that she would not perform until “they hire Colin Kaepernick back.” Then, something really cool happened. Pepsi used Cardi B in their Super Bowl ad in which she taps her red, white, and blue, nails on a can and educates viewers on how Pepsi is not just “Okurrrr.” By using Cardi B in their ad Pepsi was indirectly giving Colin Kaepernick their support. With their failed attempt at being political in the Kendel Jenner ad, this seemed like a perfect opportunity to be political and yet, remain neutral. Had you not know about Cardi B’s statements on the Colin Kaepernick affair the commercial would have just seemed like clever marketing. But, it was far more than that. The Super Bowl commercial with Cardi B was not only reminding everyone that Pepsi is not just “Okurrrr.” Pepsi is also a company that stands with the people and knows right from wrong. Doesn’t this fill you with pride and make you want to drink up?
4. Pepsi had a Japanese Mascot
For those of you who saw John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight episode that talked about Chiitan and Shinjokun you already know about Japan and their numerous mascots. If you have not seen this episode go check it out; it was aired on April 21, 2019 and takes a startling turn when it starts talking about Japanese mascots, rivalries, otters, and mascot posts on social media. All this to say that Japan has mascots. Many, many mascots. They use a particular kind of mascot, called Yuru-chara, to promote a place, region, event, or even a business. Pepsi got right onto this bandwagon by making their own Yuru-chara in the mid 1990’s. They called him: Pepsiman. Yes, that is one word… just like Superman or Batman. Pepsiman is rather frightening. He kind of has no face and drinks his Pepsi from a hole in his head that just appears. Why does this mascot matter and why should it make you want to drink more Pepsi? Well, Pepsi is so dedicated to their public that they are willing to create a mascot superhero for one specific country. They are making Pepsi appealing to absolutely everyone. They embraced the Japanese Yuru-chara tradition and that is so cool. Now, go… go learn about Japanese mascots and Pepsiman. You won’t be sorry!
3. Pepsi has had a Crazy Amount of Flavors
Over the years Pepsi has had many variations of their original product. Here is a little list of some of what the company has explored and the flavors they have tried: Crystal Pepsi (a clear version of the drink everyone already knows – sold primarily in 1992 and 1993 but brought back over the years due to popular demand), Pepsi X (a Dragon Fruit Cola version that was released to market the X Factor TV show), Pepsi Gold (a gold color version of the soda sold to promote both the 2006 FIFA Wold Cup and 2007 ICC Cricket World Cup), Pepsi 100 (made in 1998 for the drink’s one hundredth birthday – available for a limited time and then brought back in 2003 to celebrate the brands name), Pepsi Samba (a “Tropical Flavoured Cola” which contained mango and tamarind – sold in Australia and Spain in 2005), Pepsi Pink (a limited edition, pink in color, strawberry-milk flavored version that was sold in 2011 and then again in 2014), Pepsi Sakura (A cherry blossom flavored Pepsi sold in 2016 in Japan), and Pepsi Capuchino (a mocha-latte flavored Pepsi sold for a limited time in Guatemala and El Salvador in 2006 and then in Honduras in 2012). These are just a few of the numerous flavors Pepsi has offered over the years around the world. This is so great because it means that you can try a new kind of Pepsi wherever you travel. When you are abroad Pepsi will make you feel at home and give you something new.
2. Pepsi made it into the Soviet Union before Any Other Product
In 1974 the first USSR Pepsi plant opened. It apparently made up to 160,000 bottled of Pepsi per shift. This is impressive because Pepsi’s key competitor, Coca-Cola, was not active in the Russian market at the time. It started in 1972 when the product was being sold as a concentrate where it was then being diluted and bottled by Russians and then sold across the country. At this time there was an issue with the USSR currency, making payment to the American company difficult. Therefore, in exchange for the Pepsi concentrate American was given Vodka instead of money. That’s a pretty neat fact. Who would have thought that a major brand would be using the barter system in the 70’s? That was not that long ago. There was quite a bit of vodka shipped to the US; meaning they were selling their fair share of Pepsi. Between 1973-1981 a total of 1.9 million decaliters of Stolichnaya vodka, worth twenty five million dollars was shipped to the US for 32.3 million decaliters of Pepsi. This earned the Kremlin three-hundred and three point three million rubles. What an amazing deal. Well done Pepsi on getting to this huge market first!
1. Pepsi used Skywriting to Advertise before Anyone Else Did
You have surely seen some kind of skywriting in your life time. Skywriting in the process of a small aircraft expelling smoke and flying in a pattern to create words or pictures in the sky. This craze was first used for advertising by Pepsi in 1932. The company hired Andy Stinis to write Pepsi in the sky over numerous American cities. The company then went on to hire Suzanne Ashbury-Oliver who was the only female skywriter in the US. She started flying when she was only fourteen years old and became a spokesperson in her own right by doing this job for Pepsi. She would craft messages that were ten thousand feet above the ground which advertised the soda. Pepsi used this innovative way of advertising to reach numerous people all over the country. Thank you Pepsi, for staying cool! Pepsi is not only giving people a yummy product but they are entertaining and wowing customers with their intelligent forms of marketing. Pepsi knew, and still knows, that to be successful as a brand it is important to remain captivating. We look forward to seeing what you do next!