Pepsi’s the same ad with another message

Pepsi’s Haloween ad campaign represents the method of comparative advertising, where consumers can obviously see the comparison beingproposed between two brands: Pepsi and Coca-cola. This method of advertising can pose certain threats such as legal issues, confusing identificationof the brand and a counter-productive effect where consumers prefer the other brand… Based on these issues, it can be said that although this is asmart and interesting ad, it might not be as efficient as Pepsi intended to be.Pepsi cleverly avoided legal issues concerning copyrights by changing the the brand name of its competitor to Cola-Coca, while keeping the significantdesign that reveals its intended message. Coca-Cola’s fanbase briefly retaliated by using the same ad with another message “Everybody wants to be ahero”. The red cape, from being thought of as a scary symbol of Dracula, has been twisted to be the cape of a superhero. This has led to two effects.Firstly, without paying attention to the logo at the right corner signifying the brand being advertised, customers might be slow to understand which brandshould they recognize and remember. This confusing identification of the targeted brand can make the ad forgettable instead of being special.Secondly, customers can show more sympathy towards the brand that is being attacked, which in this case is Coca-Cola, and the ad can backfire. Ascan be seen from the comments, more customers are rooting for Coca-Cola than for Pepsi.Thus, if the criteria of smart advertising is solely differentiating the brand, this ad is not as smart as it seems. However, if the end-goal for advertisingrelates to sales volume, this can be considered smart advertising. As the soft drink market is saturated and cola-flavored drink market is dominated bythese two brands, the purpose of such comparative advertising might not be for gaining incremental market share, but for sustaining the consumption ofthe drinks. In fact, this ad campaign as well as Coca-Cola’s fanbase reaction on 9GAG had gained huge sales volume for both brands, temporarilyprotecting them from losing in a market where consumers are gearing towards healthier drinks.In this case of a saturated market where both competitors can retaliate, it is fair to criticize each other in an ad. However, depending on the vulnerabilityand ability to retaliate of each competitor, it might not be ethical to do so. For example, if there’s a new entrant in a cola-flavored market that is beingseen as a threat to Pepsi, and it was used in this ad, while the start-up could not retaliate as powerful as Coca-Cola, it is unfair to openly attack the firmin this way.