City Desk

Did Pepsi Steal Obama’s Message?

Thank you New York Times. The out-of-town paper has noticed something that's been irking me for weeks: Obama's slogans, campaign themes, image, and logo have been co-opted by corporations and plastered all around the District. Obama is on buses, Metro cards, the radio and TV. Ikea has a new slogan: "Change Begins At Home." There's also a hot sauce, a hope-and-change necklace, and trading cards. Plus Obama toilet paper, soap, and candy bars. Visit any of our local airports and you will find a kiosk or three selling anything and everything with Obama's face on it.

The biggest offender is Pepsi. Slate made a case over the summer that Obama was the Pepsi candidate. But Pepsi appears to have tweaked their red-white-and-blue yin-yang and has adopted words like "hope" and "optimism" for its bus and TV ads. Only Pepsi spells it "optimismmm." Or something like that. Cool.

I marvel at what Pepsi would have done with McCain's "America First" slogan. But anyway. You just know Sarah Palin will be appearing in a painful Superbowl ad. Probably something for Viagra or Crystal Meth or Crystal Light or GED classes or LensCrafters.

ABC's Jake Tapper has the full scoop. Pepsi has a name for its new campaign–the Pepsi Optimism Project (PoP–sorry PoP). Tapper writes:

"Last month, Pepsi commissioned a Pepsi Optimism Project (POP) survey, which concluded that those whom they dub 'Millennials' (people born between 1980 and 1990) remained, 'confident and optimistic” despite “a failing economy, employment woes and countless other concerns.'...

Pepsi also has plans to have a big presence in Washington, D.C. next week during the inauguration. The company has teamed up with The Creative Coalition to hold an inaugural ball. A spokesperson from Pepsi said that during the week they will continue it’s brand re-launch around the ideas of hope, positive change, and active participation though forums out-of-home communications, and TV.

Is this change we can believe in?"

No, it is not.

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  • ross morrison

    On one hand, yeah, this is a lame attempt by Pepsi to capitalize on the popularity of Obama. But, don't forget Obama's was the first campaign to ever allow anybody license to use his image. That includes the guy on the corner legally selling Obama buttons he made himself, as well as giant monstrosities like Pepsi. Also keep in mind that Obama may be the market leader when it comes to politicians, but he definitely has his detractors. By siding with Obama, Pepsi is taking a chance on losing customers who don't see eye to eye with the new president. Since there's an element of risk, and the license is clearly there for the taking, it doesn't bother me so much that Pepsi's doing this, although it is a bit annoying.

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  • Jen

    I think it's pretty smart marketing. Pepsi is the all-American drink, after all.