Ever since Pepsi opted to not advertise in this year’s smorgasbord of Super Bowl commercials, I’ve been thinking about its strategy. Not to mention, in hopes of giving up my Diet Coke addiction, I gave up pop for Lent so I’ve had it on the brain. So far I’m still craving it…
Anyways, I got to thinking about monster brands. Pepsi, Coke, Budweiser, Kleenex, McDonald’s. To me, these brands are indestructible. Unless Mr. Pepsi murders Mr. Coke or someone finds a human leg in a Filet-O-Fish, I don’t think these brands are going anywhere. Even if someone does find a leg, chances are McDonald’s will bounce back. After all, Wendy’s is still thriving after that finger incident. You know when it’s real.
These brands are second nature to us. If you go to a restaurant and order a soft drink, chances are your server will say “Coke or Pepsi?” And 98 percent of the population will order one or the other without caring what brand it is. Those other two percent are the weirdos that actually think there’s a big difference and have a preference.
On a roadtrip? Chances are when it’s time for a bathroom break you are going to pull over and about 85 percent are likely to stop at a McDonald’s to use the restroom. Even if you don’t necessarily eat there that time, you’re going to be there at some point for a cup of coffee or McNuggets. By the way, I am pulling these percentages out of the air but they seem right…right?
And then there’s the Kleenex effect. Enough said.
My point is, if Coke (or one of the other untouchable brands) decides to stop all advertising tomorrow, would its sales decline? My guess is no. My guess is there would be a lot of buzz created in the social space, and Ad Age and the New York Times would call the move brilliant, thus boosting sales. Once the buzz wore off, I’m fairly certain sales would sustain due to the fact that Coke isn’t going anywhere and it’s second nature to us.
Other mega-brands like Ford and Walmart, though are in a different category. Not too long ago Ford was in a bad place but ever since Toyotas started going all apeshit and Scott Monty took over, Ford is unstoppable. But we don’t know what could happen tomorrow. Kris Allen could be driving his Ford Escape and it could drive off a cliff. Same thing goes for Walmart. This mega-brand makes boatloads, but it could all fall under tomorrow. I don’t believe sales have declined yet because of People of Walmart, but one of these days people who shop there are going to find out about how bad that brand is. But that’s a different story.
Some brands aren’t so lucky to have the Kleenex effect. But the ones that are, I want them to do something truly different. Now this isn’t a post knocking advertising. I may be on “Team PR” but I think if you are a mega untouchable brand, you should spend those dollars in creating better ad campaigns such as the Pepsi Refresh Project and other charitable projects. Which by the way, most of them do. Mad props. But what else CAN they do? I challenge them.