Coca-Cola and Pepsi have been battling for brand supremacy for decades through advertisements, slogans and celebrity endorsements. The cola wars have brought us “The Choice of a New Generation,” “Can’t Beat The Real Thing” and the short-lived, inexplicably bleached Crystal Clear Pepsi with accompanying Van Halen soundtrack. And back in the ’90s, we even watched as two of our most iconic pop idols sold their names to each soda: Britney Spears to Pepsi and Christina Aguilera to Coke.
Now, Coke and Pepsi have done the previously unthinkable and banded together to fight a common enemy: the New York City health department.
For the last three years, Mayor Bloomberg’s anti-sugary drink campaign ads have been plastered inside subways cars featuring grotesque images of lard-like pink goo oozing from a plastic bottle resembling a familiar cola or equating a dozen sugar packets to just one soda or sports drink, but it was even harder to digest the latest subway ads in which these former rivals stand in allegiance in an attempt to restore their reputation. The ad features four delivery workers pushing dollies of discernibly different beverages cases of Pepsi, Sunny Delight, Coke and Dr. Pepper. “More Choices, Smaller Portions, Fewer Calories,” is printed in big bold letters.
Pepsi, Coca Cola, as well as Dr. Pepper Snapple Co. formed an advocacy group with the American Beverage Association, which has spent nearly $70 million on lobbying and advertising since 2009, since over 30 states have been implementing a new soda tax, slightly damaging their revenue. On the other hand, the city’s current ad campaign “Pouring on the Pounds” was funded with a $100,000 federal grant. While the campaigns budgets are imbalanced the city does gain invaluable support with the recognition of diabetes and obesity as national epidemics.
Despite awareness of the dangers of sugary drinks, carbonated beverages are still the most popular beverage in the US, almost three times as popular as bottled water, coffee or milk, according to the ABA. Just like Britney and Christina, who have had their own battles with public perception and been scrutinzed in the media for weight gain, these drinks seem like an American mainstay, whether it’s for better or worse.