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PepsiCo – The History of Pepsi

In 1893 Caleb Bradham created a drink in his home, spicing it with kola nuts and the enzyme pepsin. At first he called it “Brad’s Drink” and this was the first name of Pepsi Cola. It was so delicious that he soon started selling it in his neighborhood. Later in 1898, this tasty beverage was renamed to Pepsi Cola and this was when this world brand was started.

During its first years, Bradham prepared Pepsi in his drugstore. But soon he was not able to supply the increased quantity that people demanded. In 1903, he rented a building and moved bottling there. The sales that year reached almost 8000 gallons. Seeing big potential in his drink, Caleb started building a brand and actively marketing his product. He developed a new handy bottle, which could be sold almost anywhere. This simple move more than doubled the sales, which reached nearly 20 000 gallons in 1904. The next year, the first Pepsi logo was created. A few years later, Bradham hired the racer Barney Oldfield. Barney became the first face of Pepsi Cola, and advertised it as a nice refreshing drink, a nice bracer before a race. Everything went well, Bradham enjoyed increasing sales and people enjoyed his drink more and more. It was initially branded as delicious, healthy, and refreshing, and that continued for the next two decades.

The “Roaring Twenties” helped the fast growth of the company. These were times of wealth and excess. But when the crash of 1929 hit society, things changed dramatically. At the climax of the Great Depression, “Pepsi Cola Co” filed for bankruptcy. Its creditors liquidated all of the assets to collect their money. A guy named Roy Megargel bought the trademark “Pepsi Cola” and created a new company, but not for long. A few years later the business defaulted on its debts once again. This time Charles Guth, a candy manufacturer, and businessman, bought the assets. He had been recently refused a discount on the syrup of Coca-Cola, which he wanted to sell at his retail stores.Now he would instead sell Pepsi there.

In 1936 Pepsi was sold in a 12-ounce bottle for 10 cents, but sales at that price were not doing well. At that time, Coca-Cola was sold at a higher price, but in smaller bottles of six ounces, at 6 cents each. Pepsi decided to reduce the price by 50% in order to increase revenue and fight against the strong brand of its main competitor. They combined this with some radio advertisements featuring “Pepsi-Cola hits the spot, Twelve full ounces, that’s a lot, Twice as much for a nickel, too, Pepsi-Cola is the drink for you”, and in fact, the goal was achieved. Sales skyrocketed and profits doubled in 1938. But the real benefit was that Pepsi became a stronger and far more established brand.

In 1940, a smart move was made by Pepsi’s new president – Walter Mack. He noticed that African Americans were ignored in marketing campaigns. This was a real gold mine because nobody was directly targeting them. This was a great way of increasing market share.A “black sales” team was formed, but World War II brought a halt to these plans. The campaign was resumed in 1947 by Edward Boyd, who was hired for this specific purpose. A sales team only of blacks was formed to promote the drink across America. The team faced great resistance fueled by racism, but this helped because they were able to use discrimination as a weapon against Coca-Cola. Coca Cola didn’t want to hire African Americans. That’s why they wouldn’t buy Coke. Pepsi’s market share increased significantly and for the first time, Pepsi sales surpassed Cola sales in some areas (Chicago for example). But the focus on African Americans caused some problems for Pepsi and its bottlers. There was a fear that Pepsi would become the “the black drink”, which would hurt sales to whites. That’s why in 1950, the “black team” was dismissed.

For the next several years, Pepsi didn’t stop its expansion. The company focused on its marketing efforts and on building a strong brand. Radio was used heavily for advertising purposes due to its increased adoption and spread. Later on, Pepsi switched its focus to television. Many famous and well-known faces were attracted to participate in the company’s campaigns.

Over the course of the next few years, Pepsi launched some very successful marketing campaigns under different slogans, which you can see at the bottom of this article. After World War II, the company started its expansion around the world. During these years in America, a new social phenomena appeared – the baby boomers – the postwar generation. This was the new Pepsi generation – “Come alive! You’re in the Pepsi Generation”. In 1964, a brand new type of drink was released, Diet Pepsi. This was because more and more Americans were paying greater attention to their weight. The product happened to be successful, and two years later a new marketing campaign was started only for “Diet Pepsi” – “Girlwatchers,”.

Pepsi started an innovative marketing campaign in 1975 – a blind tasting of Coca-Cola and Pepsi. People who tried the drinks had to state which one was better, without knowing what she/he drank.Amazingly, most of the people chose Pepsi as the better drink. Later the results of these tests were shown on TV and other media, making a lot of noise and drawing a lot of attention. The next year, Pepsi employed its first woman.

In 1984 Pepsi’s new generation had become 20 years old. This was the time for the “The Choice of a New Generation” campaign to be launched.This once again put Pepsi on the leading edge of contemporary culture. In its early stages, the New Generation campaign featured the greatest pop star of that time – Michael Jackson. He and his famous song “Billie Jean” starred in a series of Pepsi-Cola commercials. This was a time of fierce fighting between Pepsi and its main rival – Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola was really annoyed because of the fast rise of Pepsi. They even changed the secret recipe of Coke, but the change was rejected by customers and those that liked Coke quickly switched to Pepsi. Coca-Cola had no choice and reverted to the old recipe of their drink. Pepsi President Roger Enrico declared victory in the so-called cola wars and awarded Pepsi workers with a holiday to celebrate.

In the 80s, many other stars were attracted to the advertising campaigns of Pepsi. Some of them were Tina Turner, David Bowie, Lionel Richie, Gloria Estefan, Glen Frey, and many others. Even Geraldine Ferraro, the first female vice-presidential candidate of the US, participated in a campaign dedicated to “Diet Pepsi”. In 1987 the logo was changed slightly to a more rounded one, which was used till 1991.

During the 90s, Pepsi Co. signed a huge trade agreement with The Soviet Union. The company signed a $3-billion deal to more than double production and sales of soft drinks in the Soviet Union in exchange for ships and the rights to sell more Soviet vodka in the United States. Pepsi also increased its investment activities in hot markets such as Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, Argentina, and some other countries. A great new historical advertising campaign was started – “You Got the Right One Baby, Uh-Huh!” focused on Diet Pepsi, with Ray Charles and the “Uh-Huh Girls”. Cindy Crawford and Shaquille O’Neal were also hired for some great advertisements like “Be Young, Have Fun, Drink Pepsi”. During these years, the company introduced many new products. A partnership established with “Starbucks” gave birth to the brand new drink – the Frappucchino – a refreshing drink based on coffee and Pepsi Cola. The Frappucchino soon became the preferred cold coffee beverage in the US. Pepsi also entered the bottled water market introducing “Aquafina” water. In the late 90s (1997) Pepsi started the campaign “GeneratioNext” returning to the previously very successful generation theme.

PepsiCo today is a world leader in convenient snacks, foods, and beverages, with more than 280 000 employees and revenue reaching as high as $60 billion dollars. The company is the owner of some of the world’s greatest brands like Pepsi-Cola, Mountain Dew, Diet Pepsi, Lay’s, Doritos, Tropicana, Gatorade, and Quaker. These brands are well-known all over the world.

Pepsi Slogans

1976 – “Have A Pepsi Day” – a meeting between a small boy and some even smaller dogs, became a commercial classic.

1979 – The “Catch that Pepsi Spirit” campaign was launched.

1982 – “Pepsi’s got your Taste for Life!” – A great celebration of the nice times of the 80s.

1883 – The drink was advertised under the slogan – “Pepsi Now” and “It’s cheaper than Coke!”.

1984 – This was the time when a new generation had emerged around the world. It was time for “Pepsi, the Choice of a New Generation” – a great commercial with Michael Jackson.

1984 – “Diet Pepsi. The Choice of a New Generation”

1988 – “Diet Pepsi. The Taste That’s Generations Ahead”

1989 -“Diet Pepsi. The Right One”

1989 – “Diet Pepsi. The Taste That Beats Diet Coke”

1986 – “We’ve Got the Taste” (a commercial with Tina Turner)

1987 – “Pepsi’s Cool”

1990 – “Yehi hai right choice Baby UH HUH” – “This is the right choice Baby UH HUH” – in Pakistani.

1991 – “Gotta Have It”/”Chill Out”

1992- “The Choice Is Yours”

1992 – “Be Young, Have Fun, Drink Pepsi”

1993 – “Right Now” – a song by Van Halen for the Crystal Pepsi advertisement.

1994 – “Double Dutch Bus” – A Pepsi song sung by Brad Bentz.

1995 – “Nothing Else is a Pepsi”

1995 – “Drink Pepsi. Get Stuff.” Pepsi Stuff campaign.

1996 – “Change The Script”

1996 – “Pepsi – There’s nothing official about it” – in Pakistani.

1997 – “Generation Next” – a commercial with the Spice Girls.

1998 – “It’s the cola” – a celebratory 100 years of Pepsi commercial.

1999 – “For Those Who Think Young” – with Britney Spears.

1999 – “The Joy of Pepsi-Cola” – a commercial with Mary J. Blige.

1999 – “Yeh Dil Maange More!” – In Pakistani, meaning “This heart asks for more” launched in India.

2003 – “It’s the Cola (Pepsi Cola)” and “Dare for More”

2006 –“Why You Doggin’ Me”, “Taste the one that’s forever young”with Mary J. Blige

2007 – “Happier”, “Taste the once that’s forever young” with Michael Alexander

2000 – Present: “Pepsi ye pyaas heh bari” – meaning “There is a lot of thirst” – in Pakistani.

2008 – “Pepsi Stuff” Super Bowl Commercial, starring Justin Timberlake.

2008 – “Pepsi is #1” - TV commercial with Luke Rosin.

2008 – “Something For Everyone”

2009 – “Refresh Everything” “Every Generation Refreshes the World”

2009 -“Yeh hai youngistaan meri jaan” – “This is our young country my baby” in Pakistani.

2009 – “My Pepsi My Way” – in Pakistani.

2009 – “Refresca tu Mundo” – “Refresh your world” in Spanish – an advertisement for Latin America.

2010 – “Every Pepsi Refreshes The World”

2010 –“Badal Do Zamana” – Urdu – meaning “Change The World”

2010 – “Pode ser bom, pode ser muito bom, pode ser Pepsi” – meaning “Can be good, can be very good, can be Pepsi” – launched in Brazil.

2011 – “Change the game” – launched for the 2011 Cricket World Cup in Pakistan.

2011 – “Dunya Hai Dil Walon Ki” – “World is For Lovers” in Pakistani.

2011 –“Ici, c’est Pepsi” – “Here, it’s Pepsi”


In the United States, Pepsi is made with carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, caramel color, sugar, phosphoric acid, caffeine, citric acid, and natural flavors. A can of Pepsi (12 ounces) has 41 grams of carbohydrates (all from sugars), 30 mg of sodium, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of protein, 38 mg of caffeine, and 150 calories. Pepsi has 10 more calories and 2 more grams of sugar and carbohydrates than Coca-Cola. Caffeine-Free Pepsi contains the same ingredients but without the caffeine.


In March 2013, Pepsi reshaped its 20-ounce bottle for the first time in 17 years. However, some places did not get the updated bottles until early 2014.

In November 2013 Pepsi issued an apology on their official Swedish Facebook page for using pictures of Cristiano Ronaldo as a voodoo doll in various scenes before the Sweden v Portugal 2014 FIFA World Cup playoff game.

In November 2015 Pepsi announced it would launch a new variation called "1893". This variation was released in 2016 as a Pepsi variation made with all natural ingredients.

On April 4 2017, Pepsi uploaded a commercial named “Live for Now (Pepsi)” to YouTube. In the commercial, Kendall Jenner is seen taking off her wig, removing her necklace, and leaving her photoshoot to join a protest going on. The protest ends when Jenner hands a police officer a can of Pepsi soda, reuniting everyone. The advertisement generated public controversy and criticism for trivializing protest movements such as Black Lives Matter. On April 5 2017, Pepsi issued an apology and removed the commercial from YouTube.

In May 2018, Pepsi began selling 0,33L cans with designs of older Pepsi generations, with stylized prints of celebrities associated with the brand and older designs of the Pepsi logo.