BY GAIL BARNES
On Wednesday 21 October 2015, the eve of #ThrowbackThursday or #TBT, the very same day that Michael J. Fox’s character in Back to the Future II arrived from the 1980s into what is about to be the present, Pepsi will begin selling a limited number of bottles – only 6,500 – of Pepsi Perfect online in the US for $20.15. Pepsi is no doubt hoping that their fictional soft drink, rich in vitamins in the iconic and pop-culture rich movie, will also be rich in the stuff that social media dreams and trending topics are made of!
“Pepsi fans asked and we heard them loud and clear,” said Lou Arbetter, senior director of marketing for PepsiCo. “The Back to the Future trilogy was as big a moment in pop culture history then as it is now, 30 years later. We are excited to be part of this moment and to bring fans something only Pepsi could deliver – and there’s no need to wait – the future is now!”
According to Davie Brown Entertainment, the company that has handled placements for Pepsi since the beginning, it’s not often that marketers get a chance to go back in time to relive some of the glory years. In an ad industry publication, Davie Brown president Tom Meyer said: “To be able to actually deliver on the dreams of people who almost 30 years ago fell in love not only with the movie but also Pepsi Perfect – that’s a really special opportunity and we’re getting to live it right now.”
In terms of #PepsiPerfect activity on Twitter, for Pepsi it is hopefully the lull before the social media storm. According to a proprietary third party tool that measures the reach of tweets, in the period 14 to 18 October, 1,500 tweets from 1,282 contributors using the hashtag #PepsiPerfect reached 5,301,062 people with 8,133,713 impressions.
Top contributors to #PepsiPerfect on Twitter are currently Pepsi México (213 retweets/386 mentions) and Mexican theatre chain Cinemex (3m impressions), with the most retweeted tweet being the #TheFutureisNow #PepsiPerfect announcement of the limited edition release by Pepsi on 5 October. Apart from Cinemex, with 3m followers, only one major account tweeted about #PepsiPerfect between 14 October and 18 October: WWE star Zack Ryder, who has 1.78m followers.
On Facebook, a 13 October post about Pepsi Perfect elicited 720 likes and 281 shares, not a high number for a page that is liked by 33.8m fans, and not high in comparison to other recent posts. Many of the comments on the Pepsi Perfect post focus on the limited number of bottles that will be available (fans are not happy with the limited number), and off-topic, but an indication that it is a hot issue, comments from fans venting about the recent changes in the formulation of Diet Pepsi that replaced aspartame with sucralose.
The off-topic fan reaction to the Pepsi Perfect Facebook post is interesting in the light of reports in the US media that Diet Pepsi sales fell by 6.6% in September as customers complained that a change in the recipe had ruined the taste. Following this change negative remarks on social media networks have so far outweighed positive ones by 6-1.
Pepsi Perfect isn’t a new beverage. The 16.9oz Pepsi Perfect bottles will be filled with Pepsi made with real sugar, a formula that can already be bought by consumers who don’t want to drink Pepsi’s corn-syrup formula. According to some newspaper reports, real sugar is being used for Pepsi Perfect because corn syrup is apparently not the sweetener of the future.
The limited edition 6,500 Pepsi Perfect bottles, each outfitted in a special collectible case, will be available to fans in the US to buy online on 21 October and will be sold only while supplies last. At the time of writing the exact time when online sales will start is not known, with fans being advised by the company to check Pepsi’s social media accounts.
With Pepsi Perfect, Pepsi has landed the perfect product placement. Will this translate into fever-pitch levels of excitement and a trending topic on social media on 21 October? Time, and this week, will tell.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2018