The Pepsi Challenge – an Iconic ‘70s Ad Campaign

The Pepsi Challenge pic
The Pepsi Challenge
Image: entrepreneur.com

Darin Pastor, currently chairman and CEO of Capstone Financial Group, Inc., has gained success in multiple executive roles in the financial industry. In positions with firms such as JPMorgan Chase & Co., he has led teams that broke sales records and won recognition for their extraordinary performance. Darin Pastor, who attended the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, started his business career in his family’s own Pepsi bottling franchise in Buffalo, New York.

The Pepsi Challenge ad campaign, begun in the 1970s, proved to be one of the most effective ever for the brand. The concept was simple, but it upended Coca-Cola’s dominance of the soft drink market: Take Pepsi to the streets, and ask ordinary people walking by to take a blind “taste test” of the two sodas.

Pepsi’s vice president of marketing, John Sculley, came up with the idea. He specifically targeted the decision-makers when it came to family shopping: mothers and grandmothers. Knowing his intended market, he and his team built a careful profile of their customers, recognizing that television was the preferred medium for this group.

One early commercial in the series featured a grandmother persuaded by her granddaughter to take the challenge. When the grandmother said she couldn’t believe she preferred Pepsi over Coca-Cola (after choosing it), it rocked the soft drink industry, and sales of Pepsi skyrocketed.

In 2015, Pepsi celebrated the 40th anniversary of the ads with a series of social media “challenges” featuring popular celebrities.

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