Pepsi Max will soon be dead. In a bid to reverse tanking sales, PepsiCo has made the unusual decision to re-brand the diet soft drink as "Pepsi Zero Sugar". Apparently, a significant segment of the population didn't realise is was sugar-free so they're spelling it out on the label. (With any luck, this will mean an end to those stupid "live life to the max" adverts. Hurrah!)
UPDATE: PepsiCo just got back to us about its name change. It turns out this will only affect the US market. Here's a statement from Pepsi: “In the Australian market, we currently provide several options across our portfolio and there are no changes to that lineup – it’s all Pepsi, but just how you like it. Pepsi Max is the number one no sugar cola brand in Australia and there is no change to this product."
According to a report on the Wall Street Journal, PepsiCo is embarking on a major shakeup of its diet cola portfolio in the wake of declining sales. In the US, it's reintroducing the artificial sweetener aspartame following taste complaints about its short-lived replacement sucralose. In addition, the company will also be giving Pepsi Max a new name: Pepsi Zero Sugar. The changes are set to take place in the US Autumn.
In Australia, Pepsi Max is manufactured by Schweppes which uses its own formula. However, the name change is likely to affect Pepsi branding worldwide. We reached out to Schweppes who said they are still awaiting instructions from PepsiCo United States.
When you consider how prolific Pepsi Max marketing is in Australia, this rebranding decision is sure to cause significant confusion. Indeed, it arguably has the strongest brand recognition among diet colas: it's almost like changing the name to Vegemite.
With that said, we can see why the company might want to move away from the "Max" branding which has always been heavily geared towards young males. All those "exxxxtreme!" sk8ter boi adverts are cliched at this point and also alienating to many potential customers. By contrast, Pepsi Zero Sugar is elegant and gender-neutral.
On the other hand, PepsiCo already caters to mainstream consumers via Diet Pepsi. Just who is Pepsi Zero Sugar for exactly? At least Pepsi Max had a clearly defined audience; even if they were depicted as massive cockwombles in the adverts.
It's not often that a beverage company chooses to completely rename one of its key products. It will be interesting to see how the change affects sales, if at all. For those interested, we've included the WSJ report in the below video:
[Via Wall Street Journal]