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Bad Ads: Did PepsiCo Just Pull A "New Coke" Move?

When you're entrusted with the care and feeding of a legacy brand with tons of brand equity, sometimes it pays to just ride the "ain't broke/don't fix" bandwagon into the sunset of your career. However, the overachieving marketers at PepsiCo recently decided to shake things up and change the packaging design on their Tropicana Pure Premium orange juice line.

If you didn't notice, it's probably because you thought that Tropicana had been bumped, and its shelf space taken by a brand called 100% Orange.

According to the Big Fat Marketing Blog, outraged former Tropicana customers (probably suffering from madness caused by severe fructose deficit and scurvy) took to the Web to express their displeasure in e-mail, on blogs and in phone calls to the parent company. The resulting twitter-storm from outraged OJ fanatics forced PepsiCo to revert back to the old packaging design even while a huge, highly-visible (and presumably highly-expensive) ad campaign was underway promoting the new one.

The Times story referenced in that blog post states that these conversations and new forms of customer impact are "becoming increasingly common as interactive technologies enable consumers to rapidly convey opinions to marketers." In other words, you don't have to wait for sales to drop off the shelf to hear that your customers are angry with you, which is a good thing for marketers, even if it makes them work a little bit (OK, a lot) harder.

"Twitter is the ultimate focus group,” Mr. Shankman said. “I can post something and in a minute get feedback from 700 people around the world, giving me their real opinions.”

“You used to wait to go to the water cooler or a cocktail party to talk over something,” said Richard Laermer, chief executive at RLM Public Relations in New York.

“Now, every minute is a cocktail party,” he added. “You write an e-mail and in an hour, you’ve got a fan base agreeing with you.”

A cocktail party every minute? Horrifying thought, unless maybe you're selling OJ for screwdrivers. Either way, I'd still keep the old brand.

TAGS: Innovation
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