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Senior Project Research Paper Laura McGaha


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Senior Project Research Paper Laura McGaha

  1. 1. McGaha 1Laura McGahaMs. BennettBritish Literature7 September 2011 Coke or Pepsi: The Great Debate Have you ever wanted to enjoy the refreshing taste of a soda, but always got stumped onthe thought of having either the delicious taste of Coca-Cola or the sweet, sugary taste ofPepsiCo? For years there has been a constant battle between these sodas. Someone can eitherchoose to have a cool, classic Coca-Cola, or the new and modern taste of Pepsi. Either one hassomething that is certainly unique and could spark any taste bud. Although Coca-Cola isinfamous and was invented long before PepsiCo, Pepsi has worked its way up through the sodacharts making huge competition for Coke. These two companies are neck and neck just fightingfor one to surpass the other. As the two leading companies in the soda industry, Coca-Cola andPepsiCo have many unique qualities, but they are also very similar in many ways. The infamous Coca-Cola was created in 1886 by a curious Atlanta pharmacist named Dr.John S. Pemberton. He created special flavored syrup and added carbonated water to it in hispharmacy. What Dr. Pemberton did not know was that he just created the most successful andpopular carbonated soda ever invented. Unfortunately, Pemberton died a short two years aftercreating Coca-Cola, but before he passed, he sold portions of his company to various Atlantabusinessmen. The man who expanded Coke was one of these businessmen, Asa G. Candler, whobroadened the product beyond Atlanta and dreamed about making Coke portable. He placed thefirst Coca-Cola bottle dispenser in Mississippi behind one of his soda fountains. It was not until
  2. 2. McGaha 2three entrepreneurs, Benjamin Thomas, Joseph Whitehead, and John Lupton, bought the bottlingrights from Candler that what is now the Coca-Cola worldwide bottling system. These mendecided to make their bottle stand out from all the rest; therefore, making the bottle to have aunique shape and a dark color. In 1887, with Coca-Cola rapidly growing, the first marketingtechnique came out when Coke suppliers handed out coupons to sample a free Coke. Soon after,commercials and songs were produced to increase popularity. Previous Coca-Cola slogans havegone down in marketing history, and are still in the making. From the first coupon handed out toreceive a free Coke, to the commercials about “Open Happiness” (The Coca-Cola Company),Coke is a large flame waiting to burn down the competition. Like Coca-Cola, PepsiCo‟s inventor was also a pharmacist. In 1898, a man by the nameof Caleb Bradham started experimenting with new spices, juices, and syrups. He wanted toinvent a delicious drink to refresh his customers. He accomplished his goal, and PepsiCo wasborn. At first, PepsiCo was named “Brad‟s Drink” because he only served it in his drugstore,making it unique to anyone who tasted it. Since his drink became popular so quickly, by 1902,Bradham launched The PepsiCo Company in the back room of his pharmacy. He finally got hisdrink patent in June of 1903, and began expanding his company. By the end of 1903, he allowedtwo independent companies in North Carolina to invest in PepsiCo. Four years later, there wereforty franchises that were a part of the rapidly growing soda. With 1910 coming to an end, therewere PepsiCo franchises in 24 states, selling over 100,000 gallons of syrup per year. This drinkwent from being sold in a small drugstore to being an enormous company within about eightyears. Unfortunately, because of the money situation during World War I, Bradham had to sellhis company‟s trademark to a New York stockbroker named Roy C. Megargel.Megargel decidedto sell the company to the most important owner, Charles G. Guth. Guth saw the company as a
  3. 3. McGaha 3great investment and a possible threat to the Coca-Cola Company. Under his control, ThePepsiCo Company brought the heat and became a worldwide sensation. Within a year, and evenduring the Great Depression, Pepsi gained over one million and was rapidly rising. Pepsi‟smarketing varied from the general public, all the way to the armies across the world. Songs,commercials, posters, and morewere just a fraction of what Pepsi‟s marketing had to offer. Thiscompany started off slow during a hard time, but it came to be one of the leading soda companiesin the industry. The Coca-Cola Company and The PepsiCo Company both spend tens of millions ofdollars on marketing alone. The largest form of advertising for the companies is the World WideWeb. Both Coke and Pepsi lean toward demographic advertising, which is focusing on a selectgroup, such as age, gender, country, etc., to sell their product to that group. They gather thedemographic information by having e-mail based newsletters that customers can sign up for onthe company‟s home website. Before someone can receive any e-mail, the company has them fillout a form asking for their name, gender, interests, location, and so on. After they collect enoughdata, the company uses that information to advertise to a certain group throughout any mediameans. Both Coca-Cola and PepsiCo strive to have tight customer/company relationships. Theytry to get as close to the customer as possible to gain a sense of respect and loyalty. In otherwords, both companies use emotion to grab hold of their customers. Coke‟s slogan today is“Open Happiness” (The Coca-Cola Company). This slogan is implying that if a person has aCoca-Cola, then they will be internally happy and pleased with life. Pepsi‟s slogan is “RefreshEverything” (The PepsiCo Company). They are stating that if someone wants to enjoy a Pepsi,then the drink will refresh their body and ultimately feel better. Both of these slogans areappealing to the sense of emotion. Each drink is different in its own way, but each has many
  4. 4. McGaha 4factors that no average soda drinker can tell apart. “The nagging question, „which is better, Coca-Cola or Pepsi-Cola?‟ sprang from anearlier, more basic question: „Can anyone tell the difference?‟” (Cellania).Yes, Coca-Cola andPepsiCo are two completely different companies, but they have so many obvioussimilarities.Bothare similar when it comes to appearance, taste, marketing, and more. In 1948, aprofessor from the University of Wichita by the name of Nicholas H. Pronko conducted anexperiment to test the tastes between Coke and Pepsi. He gathered together 108 college studentsto do a series of taste tasting of the two products. It turns out that the students could not identifythe different taste between each drink. Not only is the taste similar, minus a few ingredients, butthe appearance cannot be told apart. If someone was to look at a glass of Coke and a glass ofPepsi, it is virtually impossible to tell them apart. They are both dark in color, have carbonation,and both barely have a scent. Even the calories in each drink are similar. There are about 140calories in a can of Coca-Cola, and about 150 calories in a can of Pepsi. Also, Coke and Pepsiwere both invented by pharmacists, and they were meant to serve as a form of medicine. Cokewas meant to keep the drinker‟s body alert and awake, and Pepsi was meant to be a drink for thedigestive system to cleanse the human body. Deciding to pop open a classic Coca-Cola or a modern Pepsi is the biggest decision tomake in a soda drinker‟s world. To some, Coke and Pepsi are the same drink, just with differentpackaging. To others, both sodas have completely different tastes, different looks, differenteverything. Some people would not even about touching a Pepsi over a Coke and vice-versa.Although Coca-Cola and Pepsi might seem similar, they are actually very different compared toeach other. First of all, while both drinks have some similar ingredients, they have differentcomponents in each. In fact, in 1886, the creator of Coca-Cola, John Pemberton, actually
  5. 5. McGaha 5manufactured Coke that contained cocaine and considered it a medicine. Later in the 1930s, thecocaine content was completely removed from the drink. After the cocaine was removed, Coca-Cola was made up of carbonated water, sugar, phosphoric acid, natural flavorings, caffeine, andits secret ingredient called “7X”. Even today, Coca-Cola will not release the secret ingredient,“7X”, formula because it is considered to be so top secret to the Coke company. Pepsi, on theother hand, never had an ingredient as extreme as cocaine in it. Instead, Pepsi is made up ofsugar, phosphoric acid, caramel color, caffeine, citric acid, and natural flavors. To put it intoperspective, Coke is less sweet, has a fruity flavor and a higher fizzy effect, and issmoother todrink. Pepsi is sweeter, has more of a cola flavor, and has a less fizzy effect compared to Coke. Yes, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have very similar marketing techniques, but each onedisplays it in different ways. Throughout the years, PepsiCo has had many different logos andslogans. Coke, on the other hand, has tried to stick to one logo and only a few slogans. ThePepsiCo Company has always been known to reach out to the public and help others. They dothat so theycan be apart their customer‟s lives. They mainly use the power of environmentalproblems to help boost their reputation. Pepsi has donated millions and millions of dollars to helpclean and enrich the earth. These actions play along with their slogan, “Refresh Everything” (ThePepsiCo Company). Coke, compared to Pepsi, tries to keep it classic. They have barely changedtheir logo (besides the letter size and font style), and have only had a few slogans since Coke‟sbeginning. Coke‟s slogan today, “Open Happiness” (The Coca-Cola Company), goes along withthe idea of being the classic soda drink. It still has that old-time feel when one is popped open. Now, the great debate has always been which one does the public prefer, Coke or Pepsi?Based on statistics from 2006, the two drinks were neck and neck. At the beginning, Coca-Colawas in the lead; it is what most of the public preferred. As 2006 rolled around, the tides turned,
  6. 6. McGaha 6and PepsiCo caught up, surpassing Coke. Pepsi‟s sales growth nearly doubled Coke‟s by the endof the year. Although Pepsi‟s sales growth is higher, Coke has stronger ties outside of NorthAmerica. It has the upper hand when it comes to international business and gaining profitthroughout the entire world. So not only are Coke and Pepsi the lead soda companies in theindustry, but they are very close when it comes to statistics and which the public desires most. PepsiCo and Coca-Cola are two enormous leading companies in the soda industry withmany diverse and related qualities compared to each other. If someone wants a drink that hasextra fizz and a little kick to it, grab a Coke. On the opposite end, if someone wants a soda that issweet and bubbly, then pop open a Pepsi. Both drinks have something different about them thatcan be easy to tell apart. On the flip side, they have so many similar characteristics to the pointwhere almost no one could identify which drink is Pepsi, and which is Coke. Whether it comesto marketing or taste, the great debate is always going to remain the same…which one issuperior, Coca-Cola or PepsiCo?