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Pepsi tries new look with first package redesign since 1997

By: By Natalie Zmuda
ADVERTISING AGE

April 1, 2013

PURCHASE, N.Y. — PepsiCo Inc. will introduce a new bottle shape for the first time in 16 years, along with new graphics, this month.

The brand's 16 oz. and 20 oz. plastic bottles will feature a swirled grip on the bottom portion of the bottle, with a shorter label edged in a "cola-colored" border and showing an enlarged version of its existing globe logo. A 12 oz. glass bottle, which will be available in select retailers, features the same twisted shape as well as the globe logo ringed in a thick silver line.

The new bottle shape, last updated in 1997, applies to Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Pepsi Max and Pepsi Next. Only full-calorie Pepsi is available in the glass bottles.

"We started with single serve, because it is the package you're seen drinking and holding," explained Angelique Krembs, VP-marketing for the Pepsi trademark. "The longer-term view is this new design system would eventually hit all touch points beyond packaging, to be honest, but certainly all other package types, as it applies."

The bottles begin rolling out in April, though Krembs said it will be some time before the entire system is turned over. She expects half the country will be converted to the new package and feature the new design system, including point-of-sale and other marketing, by year's end.

The 16 oz. bottle size is not as widely distributed as the 20 oz. version, though Krembs said it may get a boost thanks to the new look. Krembs said the redesign of the 16 oz. bottle and any changes to distribution were not related to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposed ban on sugary beverages larger than 16 oz.

Krembs said the move toward a more cohesive design language and updated packaging began over a year ago when the brand introduced its new brand mantra, "Capturing the excitement of now." At the time, execs told Ad Age that positioning would also inform the brand's design efforts, which have been much dissected in recent years.

In 2008 Pepsi introduced a new globe logo and began updating packaging. That move highlighted for many one of the key differences between Pepsi and rival Coke: Coke's logo has undergone changes in its 126 years, but the cola giant has largely stuck to its brand equities: the color red and a scripted font. By contrast, little has been sacred at Pepsi.

Pepsi is not changing its logo. Instead, it says it is building on brand equities -- and trying to establish some new ones.

One existing equity is the idea of red and blue divided by white-imagine a guitar or the Statue of Liberty swathed in red, white and blue, mimicking Pepsi's logo. Another execution of that idea is a package showing only a portion of the logo. Beverage Digest, which first reported the brand's modified graphics, published a photo of a four-pack of glass bottles in a cardboard package, which showed only a portion of the globe logo. That image included some condensation — a throwback to a design used more than a decade ago. Krembs said the condensation imagery is a refreshment cue but will not apply to all packaging.

The twisted-bottle shape is a standard the brand hopes to build on — Coca-Cola has long been known for its iconic contour bottle shape. Krembs said the team, including Chief Design Officer Mauro Porcini, who was brought onboard last June, looked in Pepsi's archives for inspiration and features that were consistent over time. The swirl on the new bottle is an element that goes back to some of the early glass packages, Krembs said.

"We didn't want to create a shape that came out of nowhere," Krembs said. "It's not uniform, it's a little asymmetrical, there's a little edginess and playfulness, which is consistent with Pepsi's equities and youthful spirit."

The package was "vigorously" tested with consumers, though it has not been in market. Sibling brand Mtn Dew has also been testing a bottle featuring a swirled grip, though the design is more "aggressive." Krembs said the Mtn Dew package was tested in market and performed well, giving Pepsi confidence its bottle will also be well received.