PepsiCo invites designers to new Pepsi challenge

Wed Apr 4, 2007 12:52pm EDT

(Adds Web site address in final paragraph)

By Martinne Geller

NEW YORK, April 4 (Reuters) - PepsiCo Inc. (PEP.N) is challenging creative types to design a new look for its cans, which the company hopes will attract more young customers. The beverage company is launching a contest on Wednesday inviting people to submit can designs for a chance to win $10,000 and have their design on 500 million Pepsi cans, a company executive told Reuters on Tuesday.

"This is part of our global brand restyle," said James Miller, Pepsi's marketing director, referring to a campaign to change Pepsi can graphics every few weeks. "Every time a consumer buys a Pepsi, they're getting a new experience."

This campaign recalls the "youth strategy," as marketing strategist Jack Trout called it, that Pepsi launched in 1984 when Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie helped establish it as "The Choice of a New Generation."

Trout, who runs Trout & Partners in Old Greenwich, Connecticut, said Pepsi succeeded in carving its own space while Coca-Cola Co. (KO.N) went by "The Real Thing."

Since then the industry has enjoyed decades of growth, but carbonated soft drinks posted their second year of declines in 2006 as more health-conscious consumers chose vitamin waters, sports drinks or bottled teas.

In 2006, U.S. sales volume of Coke Classic fell 2 percent to 1.76 billion cases while Pepsi-Cola's fell 2.5 percent to 1.11 billion cases, according to industry newsletter Beverage Digest.

"In essence you have two lumbering cola giants, lost in the wilderness, flailing around, trying to come up with something that's going to pump some life into the category," Trout said.

He said this campaign, along with Coke's latest -- online videos in which lawyers for Coke Classic sue Coke Zero for "taste infringement" -- was an attempt to harness the power of the Internet, but that it lacked a clear strategy.

"This is about selling cola. It's not about designing cans," Trout said.

Interested designers can register at www.designourpepsican.com until May 15, and cans with the winning design should hit shelves Jan. 1, 2008, Pepsi's Miller said.

((Reporting by Martinne Geller; editing by Deborah Cohen; Reuters messaging: martinne.geller.reuters.com@reuters.net; martinne.geller@reuters.com; +1 646 223 6023)) Keywords: PEPSI DESIGN/

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