For the Zillionth Time: Coke Versus Pepsi

Out of all competing brands there are in the world, the rivalry between Coke and Pepsi is the classic. Because both corporations merely sell sugared bubble water, their products do not vary much in quality (Pepsi for instance consist to 86% of purified water as stated on their web site). The fight for world soda domination therefore, is limited to the consumers perception of each product. The brand, and the humongous marketing force behind it, is the main driving factor of sales for both products. In this text I will analyze their efforts in the Australian corner of the online medium. Before making comparisons and conclusions, let me first analyze each site on its own.

In the first few seconds I am confronted with bandwidth choking beauty. The only information displayed is what is being loaded onto the page. I find this rather unusual, I presume the average Coke drinker does not care what elements are being loaded on the site other than its developers (as if they forgot to turn off the debugging messages). After the weary process of page bootstrapping, my eyes finally receive some candy. The 3D view of an open air music festival is truly appealing. Red is the dominating color and creates a clear association with the Coke brand. I like that the page is not animated to heavily. Also the splashes of coke on the top right corner are a nice design idea. Relating the navigation to different areas of a music festival is a well done and fits nicely with the concept of the brand. Coke is investing heavily into the relation of the brand with music. They are not the only brand in the drink market to do so. Heineken beer, with its "sounds good" campaign, also went down this road. I find, relating flavoured liquid to music a bit of a stretch. Coke has made a large effort however to make that happen. Not only with the site, but also with their add campaign in print and television. Concerts and music are shown consistently in the Coca Cola commercials of 2005 and 2006. The site provides useful information on the topic of music and promotes the brand alongside it. The coke zero sub site is fantastic. I like the marketing strategy of coke zero. Coke "promises" the drink to maintain a great taste without sugar. This thinking is applied to the relationship between man and woman, protesting men should not have to suffer the consequences for their doings. The marketing concept of coke zero (consequences) is more logical to me than the actual coke (music) concept, because, for me, there is more logical relation between the brand promise and the product itself. All in all, the coke web site is an interesting visit and delivers both good content and neat design.

The Pepsi page loads quicker than expected for a page containing many graphics. The living room setting is nothing original, but it allows the navigational elements to be related better with the content. For instance the cellphone links to the games section and the DVD player shows short movie clips. The visuals are nothing special. The cyan and blue colors on a black background relate to the Pepsi brand. I miss a clear navigation structure. It is fun for a moment to interact with the elements of the room, but after a while becomes hindering. Most web users visit a site seeking specific information and do not want to waste time toying around with elements to see where they lead to. The navigation on the bottom is not the same as the navigation in the picture. The copyright and disclaimer on the top left and right is sheer stupidity. The texts are inside an image and the fonts are so small and compressed they are unreadable. Why did they put the bar-code of the product on the web site? Either the designer used it as a visual element (dumb idea at that size) or the team of lawyers had to deliver some work to excuse their wages. While I am ranting, I think the "check this out" link a usability nightmare. Jakob Nielsen would not be happy, since it gives no clue on what the link leads to. The drag and drop soccer ball is cute, but does not fit with the depth of the room. It would have been much cooler to throw it at the back wall. I am proud of the fact that I found out one could grab the ball and throw it in the hoop on the left wall to make points on the score board. I was awaiting some sort of reward after 10 points but nothing happened. The image of the woman should be animated to give her some life. This way she does not fit in correctly. I ask myself, what does Pepsi want to show me with this site? Up front there is hardly no brand proposition being made. The user has to go and search for it first. There are better ways to do this, the absolute vodka web site for instance starts playing advertising movies automatically when the site is accessed. Pepsi starts a promo animation on the television but stops after a few seconds. The sub sites of are equally lame in my opinion. The music site lacks content and the pepsi max sub site is equally useless. There, the brand proposition does not come across on the page itself, I had to watch the TV add for that. The navigation is neither useful nor fancy. I think Pepsi should rethink their web site, in my mind it does more harm to the brand than good.


The products are similar and so are the brands. Both Coke and Pepsi position themselves with music to reach a young target audience. Both sites run in flash, the premier tool in 2006 for brand promoting web sites. The overall quality of the coke site is far better than what Pepsi has to offer. Other than the bouncing ball doodad, I could not find anything truly fun or interesting on the Pepsi site, and I am in their target group (I am generation Y, like music and sweet beverages). As a consumer, I would not revisit either site since there is no information or activity that is worth my time (other than checking out their marketing strategies and branding efforts of course).


Both sites are completely geared towards brand building. The Coke site accomplishes the goals of the marketing department very well. Cheers, to the advertising agencies on a job well done. Pepsi should ditch their web design agency on the other hand. The brand is not promoted well enough in my opinion and therefore the goals of the site are not accomplished. Pepsi should check out to see how a brand can be promoted online.
As for the marketing, I do not agree with their strategies for both brands. I find they are taking the branding of their products too far. How could marketing have come to this? I miss the direct link between soft drinks and music. don’t get me wrong, I think branding and marketing is a crucial part of business and of modern society since we are offered variety and choice. However, creating something out of a product of which it is clearly not, through constant bombardment of the senses, is taking it too far. I prefer Coke over Pepsi because I prefer its flavour and not because I like to listen to a certain music band. What happened to the good old brand proposition of reducing fatigue? For me, it is enough to know that the stuff behind the logos is the stuff I like.