Pepsi Max Quebec

Off to a Good Start (BRONZE)

Client Credits: PepsiCo Beverages Canada
Greg Lyons, Vice President Beverages
Robb Hadley, Director CSDs
Jonathan Watts, Marketing Manager
Wenchelle Lao, Assistant MM

Agency Credits: NolinBBDO
Stéphane Charier, Creative Director
Cher Campbell, Creative Director
Jeff Gonick, Copywriter
Dominique Brassard, Producer
Céline Carbonneau, Producer
Benoit Béland, Group Account Director
Patrick McConnell, Web Producer
Charles-Antoine Gendry, Web Developer
Jon Barber, Film Director
Caroline Signer-Boucher, Production House Producer
Sara Mishara, Director of Photography
Daniele Boem, Media Group Director of Strategy

Crossover Notes:
Crossover Notes: All winning cases contain lessons that cross over from one case to another. David Rutherford has been identifying these as Crossover Notes since CASSIES 1997. The full set for CASSIES 2012 can be downloaded from the Case Library section at

Crossover Note 1. What a Brand Stands For
Crossover Note 8. Classic Rivalries.
Crossover Note 11. The Eureka Insight.
Crossover Note 16. When a campaign stumbles.

To see creative, click on the links that are embedded in the case.


Business Results Period (Consecutive Months):February 2011 - July 2011
Start of Advertising/Communication Effort: February 6th 2011
Base Period as a Benchmark: Calendar 2010

a) Overall Assessment
Brand Historic Context:

• It was clear to the Pepsi team that a new zero calorie product targeting younger, health-conscious consumers could help breathe new life into the zero calorie cola category and the Pepsi portfolio. Diet Pepsi (9.0 points of total cola market share) and Diet Coke (7.6 points) have dominated the category in the past, but both are consumed largely by Boomers (45-65) and both carry the Diet badge, a proven barrier to entry for younger consumers.

• To these younger Gen X (31-43) consumers, the concept of Diet was irrelevant and unappealing, however the idea of a no sugar/zero calorie cola did resonate. Pepsi recognized that a new zero calorie brand could appeal to a younger audience and spark new life into the brand.

• Coca-Cola had also identified these trends and as a result launched Coke Zero, a new edgier zero calorie product that promised "Real Coke Taste, Zero Calories."

• It was in this context, both from a consumer and competitive standpoint, that Pepsi MAX was launched in 2008 and was positioned as the world’s first mainstream “Invigoration Cola” with zero calories.

• The Brand launch was supported by TV and digital media with a near million dollar marketing budget. The "Wake Up People" campaign had little success and did not resonate with Canadian consumers. Pepsi MAX achieved a national market share of 0.4 points in 2008 while in Quebec it was 0.3 point. During this same time, Coke Zero had achieved a 2.6 national market share and a 1.8 share in Quebec. Coke Zero was resonating with consumers in a way that Pepsi MAX was not.

• Due to the brand’s lacklustre performance in 2009, Pepsi MAX was repositioned to capture a more mass audience. MAX became the "First Diet Cola for Men" and was supported by TV and digital, highlighting a "Zero Calories with Kick" message. The brand was again supported by a near million dollar budget but continued to slide into obscurity. [Crossover Note 16] Pepsi MAX's national market share slipped to 0.3 points in 2009, and to 0.2 points in Quebec. Meanwhile, Coke Zero grew to 2.8 share nationally, far outpacing Pepsi MAX.

• In 2010 Pepsi MAX continued to decline in relevance, investment and for the first time since launch, distribution. National market share was 0.3 points, and Quebec share was 0.1 points. National distribution declined 20.3% and Quebec distribution declined 8.2%. Coke Zero posted another strong year, on a national level adding +0.3 points to achieve 3.1 points of total market share. In Quebec, Coke Zero grew +0.1 points to achieve 1.9 points.

• Coke Zero had now become a very significant brand in the CSD category and as a result, Coca-Cola had taken national leadership of the zero calorie segment of colas. (Total Pepsi zero calorie market share = 10.7, total Coca-Cola zero calorie market share = 10.8). This was a major shift for PepsiCo and resulted in an in-depth study of the cola category and the Pepsi Brands.

• It became clear that consumers want zero calories but are not willing to sacrifice taste to get it. When coupled with Pepsi Max’s in market perception vs. Coke Zero, it was clear that MAX had a significant hill to climb if it was to compete and win.

• A change in direction was required to stabilize Pepsi’s zero calorie portfolio and grow the Pepsi MAX business. The decision was made to reposition the brand once again.

• In 2011, Pepsi MAX was repositioned to offer consumers ‘Zero Calories, MAXimum Pepsi Taste’. It was a position that put Pepsi Max head-to-head with Coke Zero.

Category Context

• There are few markets more competitive than carbonated soft drinks (CSDs). It is a category driven not only by advertising, but price and merchandizing also, with 71% of all sales sold at discounted prices.

• Market share is exceptionally hard to win, with annual changes measured in tenths. There are also few markets in the world where Pepsi Cola commands a significantly greater share than archrival Coca Cola – Québec is one of them. As of 2009, Pepsi’s Québec share was roughly 12 points higher than the rest of Canada and more than double that of Coke, making Pepsi’s Quebec business critical to the brand’s national success. [Crossover Note 8]

• Quebecers have a unique relationship with Pepsi, built over the years by Pepsi’s commitment to speak to Quebecers in their cultural language and respect their unique experience. Pepsi’s success had been driven by an 18-year, celebrity-focused (Claude Meunier) advertising campaign.

• However, circumstances have changed significantly in the past few years. Coke rallied behind a massive spending increase centered on Coke Zero. Their shift in strategy worked, and consumers were drawn to low calorie/diet beverages. The immediate result for Pepsi’s portfolio was a reduction in regular Pepsi’s share. It was also clear, based on the shift, that Pepsi Max was not getting its fair share of the growing diet segment.

b) Resulting Business Objectives
Business Objectives

• Grow Sales Dollar Volume by 245% for 2011

• Grow Tonnage Market Share to 1.0 point for 2011

• Grow Tonnage Velocities by 150% for 2011

• Grow Taste Equity by 6 points to 12, i.e. parity with Coke Zero in 2011

• Grow Pepsi MAX Zero Calorie Awareness by 10 points to 35 in 2011

c) Annual Media Budget
$500,000 - $1 million

d) Geographic Area
Province of Quebec

a) Analysis and Insight
Based on consumer taste tests we knew that Pepsi MAX tastes as good as Pepsi. But Quebecers expect to sacrifice taste in a zero calorie product. Our insight was to recognize the importance of their surprise when they discovered the great taste.

However, the insight would be useless unless we figured out an effective way to deliver our message. The fact that this product had been “launched” twice before complicated our task. There was confusion as to what Pepsi Max stood for [Crossover Note 1] and we needed a communication insight. We found it in a way to talk to Quebecers that’s unique to the province: jouals. [Crossover Note 11]

Jouals are not just softened versions of swear words that Quebecers use everyday (think “Holy Moly” in English), they are part of what makes the language of the province unique, part of what makes it Quebecois. Quebecois isn't different because of a pronunciation here or there. It's because of a thousand little idiosyncrasies accrued over more than three hundred years. It's because of an abundance of words with a context in local history, words that have changed over the years to become things Quebecers don't simply share, but are part of what defines them as a culture. And there's no one thing they're more proud of than their language. There's nothing that makes them more distinct as a society.

Here is the link to the digital executions:

b) Communication Strategy
This was built around the surprise that comes after a person’s first sip of Pepsi Max. We didn’t just want to celebrate this surprise, but encourage consumers to share their own. We started Phase 1 by airing a TV spot that was guaranteed to cut through the clutter by using local, almost swear words, perfect for catching the audience’s attention and connecting to the culture of Quebec. Once we had their attention, we used Phase 2 to encourage the audience to engage with our campaign and make it their own, by inviting them to share their favourite jouals through a fun and interactive Facebook application. By the end of our campaign, people weren’t just surprised to discover the great taste of Pepsi Max; they were talking about it with each other.

a) Media Used
The campaign was executed in two phases.
Phase 1 from February 6th to April 25th
• “Martin Lambert” 30 second TV spot
• In-Store relaunch focused around a Superbowl display

Phase 2 from May 2nd to July 31st
• “Martin Lambert” 30 second TV spot
• Facebook contest
• Web banners driving to the Facebook contest

b) Creative Discussion
For our “Martin Lambert” TV spot we took funny expressions Quebecers use everyday (the equivalent of “Holy Moly!” or “Sweet Jesus!”) and attributed them to the surprise and delight consumers couldn’t possibly contain after experiencing a zero calorie cola with the great taste of Pepsi. We then personified each expression, transitioning from one scene and character to the next in a way that was just as surprising to the viewer.

c) Media Discussion
Our overall media strategy was to drive TOM awareness and relevance among Gex X males. We accomplished this by focusing on sports and lifestyle programs/properties in television and digital. Our plan had 2 phases. The first was launched during the Superbowl in Quebec. This phase ran for 8 weeks in two-week blocks, with one week hiatuses in between. (See the Media Chart below).

The objective of the second phase was engagement. The plan called for a second flight of TV using the same spot with the same weight but this time it had a longer buy and was coupled with a digital layer. An interactive experience invited users to share their favourite jouals with their Facebook friends for a chance to win a prize. We also drove people to the contest via web banners on both major Quebec portals and target specific sites.

Finally, we placed in-store media in everything from corner stores to supermarkets, making sure we had a presence where Gen Xers go shopping.

a) Sales/Share Results
• Tonnage Shipments YTD are +600% vs. year ago and +140% vs. target. This has made Pepsi MAX the fastest growing brand in the CSD category.

• Tonnage Share is at 1.0 points, +0.8 points YTD vs. 2010. An increase of 0.8 share points is very significant due to the size and maturity of the CSD category.

• Consumption Dollars have grown by 352%, or $1.4 million, significantly outpacing Coke Zero's growth of 11.2%, and over-delivering on the target.

• Sales per Point of Distribution have grown by 334% YTD vs. 2010, over-delivering on the target by 123% and outpacing Coke Zero velocity performance (+10% vs. 2010).

• Pepsi MAX "Tastes Better” scores have grown significantly (+18% to 24% vs. 2010). As a result, Pepsi MAX has now surpassed Coke Zero on “Taste Better” - (Pepsi MAX 24% vs. Coke Zero 8%).

• Pepsi Zero Calorie Awareness scores have grown +15 pts vs. 2010.

b) Consumption/ Usage Results

c) Other Pertinent Results

d) Return on Investment

a) General Discussion
• Quebec media started the week of Feb. 6th. This timing aligns with the significant growth in Pepsi MAX shipments and shares.

• The new TV creative was submitted to Millward Brown for LINK testing. It scored on or above norms for Awareness Index and Persuasion.

• The creative resonated especially well with our target, (New Information 17 vs. Norm of 9, Distinct 40 vs. Norm of 29, Branding Pepsi 48 vs. Norm of 29).

• On a national basis Pepsi MAX consumption (supported by US-adapted creative) grew 202% vs. the Quebec growth of 600%.

b) Excluding Other Factors
Spending Levels: Pepsi MAX media investment grew in Quebec ahead of English Canada as consumption velocities increased and creative testing validated the business building potential of the campaign.

Pricing: Over the last three years Pepsi MAX average retail price per ton has declined to align our pricing with Coke Zero.

Distribution Changes: Since launch MAX distribution has declined in Quebec

Unusual Promotional Activity: Pepsi MAX undertook trial building activities in 2011 in partnership with our retail partners. These activities were centred on providing free 591ml samples through Food Service and select Small Format customers. These channels represented the key shopping occasions for our target consumers and were visible symbols to our retailers that we were behind the Max relaunch plan.

Other Potential Causes: Does not apply.