brand storytelling — August 6, 2012 at 3:21 pm

Pepsi: The Choice of a Hopeless Generation?


nicki-minaj-new-pepsi-commerical smarterstorytelling.comOn the surface, Pepsi’s “Live for Now” campaign seems like stuff we’ve all
seen before.

There’s the pop star du jour, the music videos employing the latest production tricks,
the hip, colorful website—-all conspiring to convey the wholesome irreverence that has underpinned Pepsi’s “Choice of a New Generation” positioning for decades.

But there’s something new and disturbing about the underlying message of “Live for Now” which signals a radical departure for Pepsi.

Unlike “Generation Next,” “Refresh Everything” or many of the upbeat variants of Pepsi’s perennial theme, “Live for Now” is a downer.

What it says to the New Generation is this: “Go ahead kids—party like there’s no tomorrow. Because you have
no future.”

And the facts support Pepsi’s insight:

  1. Overall student-loan debt has reached 1 trillion dollars.  According to 2011 figures, the average debt held by a graduate who took out a student loan is $27,200.
  2. One in two new graduates are jobless or under-employed.
  3. 29% of 25-35 year olds are still living with their parents.

Added to these bleak statistics is the coming Zombie Apocalypse, a central meme among young people.

Now, it has been a cardinal tenet of American branding, if not American business culture overall, to be positive and optimistic at all costs. Tomorrow will not be filled with zombies, but rather with peace and prosperity. The grown-ups may have screwed things up, but the new generation will refresh the world.

Pepsi’s pessimistic tagline (couched, of course, in the sounds and imagery of good times) turns all of this on
its head.

For the first time I can recall, a major American brand is admitting, if not openly declaring, that the future does not look good.

There’s a not-so-subtle nihilsm at work here, and I wonder if such a marketing strategy is sustainable.

But that’s a choice for a new generation.

We can help you understand the Pepsi Generation and other trends.
Click here to see how.

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