Advertising Age published a story titled, “Pepsi Refocuses on Hispanics,” detailing how the brand had abandoned the target audience in recent years. Oddly enough, the piece offered no reasoning for the abandonment or the renewed interest. Someone probably figured Sofia Vergara provided cross-cultural appeal. The soft drink is now being serviced by LatinWorks—which just happens to be a part of Omnicom. So there must be some Corporate Cultural Collusion involved. Additionally, the new commercial features fútbol stars and a popular DJ. So there’s some cultural cluelessness and stereotyping involved too.
Pepsi Refocuses on Hispanics
‘Vive Hoy’ Spot to Air on General-Market and Hispanic Networks
By Natalie Zmuda
Pepsi is recommitting to Hispanic consumers with limited-time offerings of its Pepsi Next product and broad distribution of an ad carrying the tagline “Vive Hoy.”
“Vive Hoy,” a translation of Pepsi’s new, much-hyped tagline “Live for Now,” will be the tagline seen on a spot launching this week on general-market and Hispanic networks. The spot, featuring Lionel Messi, a popular Argentine soccer player, is only the second piece of new creative in the broader “Live for Now campaign.” Pepsi has put a big emphasis on the idea of “Now” as part of its bid for renewed relevance.
“One of the key reasons I came here is to figure out how to dive deeper into the Hispanic space,” said Javier Farfan, senior director-cultural branding, who joined PepsiCo two years ago. “In the carbonated category, exponentially, growth is going to come from Latinos. There’s the population growth, but we’re also more prone to drink soda. So it became really important and strategic for Pepsi to get into that space.”
PepsiCo is no stranger to the Hispanic space. In 2004, the company ranked No. 6 on Ad Age’s list of the Top 50 Advertisers in Hispanic Media, spending $68.5 million. But by 2007, the company had dropped to No. 27, spending $41 million. The next year, PepsiCo dropped off the list completely and hasn’t been ranked since. Rival Coca-Cola ranked No. 24 in 2004, spending $27.7 million, and slipped to No. 48 in 2011, spending $29.8 million.
Mr. Farfan concedes Pepsi “lost its way to a certain extent” after years of being a pioneer in the Hispanic and multicultural space, inking deals with the likes of Ricky Martin and Shakira before they were household names. Now, Mr. Farfan said Pepsi is breaking ground again and increasing spending.
The new spot, with the tagline “Vive Hoy,” will air on networks as varied as BET, Bravo, CMT, ESPN, SyFy, TBS, TNT and USA, as well as Telemundo and Univision. LatinWorks handles Pepsi’s Hispanic work, in partnership with TBWA/Chiat/Day, Pepsi’s main agency.
“There’s a new mainstream evolving. It’s a different state of mind. Latinos don’t want to be separate, they want to be included,” Mr. Farfan said. “We want to nod and wink to them in places where they actually engage with media. Latinos watch MTV as much as Univision.”
Mr. Farfan said his team has considered and is monitoring the reaction of English-speaking consumers who come across “Vive Hoy,” thanks to the broad distribution. So far, the company has been fielding mostly positive responses, he said.
“It’s about the right targeting and hyperlocalizing,” he said, noting the careful promotion of MiPepsi.com, a site mirroring Pepsi.com but featuring a mix of Spanish and English. “Language is not a strategy, it’s a tactic.”
This month, Pepsi also introduced two limited-time offerings, Paradise Mango and Cherry Vanilla Pepsi Next. Both flavors are meant to appeal to Hispanics. Already the industry is closely watching Pepsi Next, a midcalorie cola, as its success or failure could have major implications for competitors.
A Pepsi spokeswoman said Pepsi Next is meeting expectations and maintaining a 0.8 share of the market. “We’ve also seen trial-and-repeat numbers performing at expectation and believe flavors will boost this by not only bringing more attention to the new category product, but also because our research has shown that our flavors may do well with new consumers,” the spokeswoman said.
Mr. Farfan said the Vive Hoy effort, along with the new flavors, are also having another benefit, showing Hispanic retailers that Pepsi “gets it.” Retailers such as Fiesta Mart, La Michoacana and Mi Pueblo are all becoming more influential, he said.