Pepsi Looks to Simon Cowell to Challenge Coke
Pepsi and Coke have been locked in a fierce battle for cola supremacy for decades. Coming off a period of declining sales, with industry data showing both Coke and Diet Coke now surpassing Pepsi, Pepsi recently opened a new front in the cola wars with its sponsorship of The X Factor. Starring Simon Cowell, The X-Factor will challenge Cowell’s former program, American Idol, and its long-time promotional partner Coke.
In these overlapping rivalries Pepsi seems to have found an ideal situation. The contest between American Idol and The X Factor mimics the competition between the two soft drink companies. Coke and American Idol are the stalwart brands with years of market leadership, while Pepsi and the upstart newcomer The X Factor look to take down the establishment. What can Simon Cowell and The X Factor offer to Pepsi in their battle with Coke?
Pepsi has touted itself as “the choice of a new generation” with the intention of focusing on younger audiences and implying that Coke is tired and old. Pepsi also gained attention with its aggressive “Pepsi Challenge” calling out Coke as having inferior taste.
According to E-Score Celebrity data, Cowell is considered Aggressive (31%), Confident (35%) and Influential (28%). A risk for Pepsi is that Cowell is also perceived as Rude (42%) and Mean (39%). However, Cowell’s strong personality and attitude compliment Pepsi’s interest in reigniting the cola wars and taking an aggressive position.
Cowell’s contribution to the Pepsi brand may serve as a model for other X Factor sponsors demonstrating how his uniqueness can supplement a brand’s directive. E-Score Celebrity can demonstrate how a personality can aid in a new brand strategy.