Pepsi’s Atom Disaster: The Cola War Continues

From decades, we have observed the legendary rivalry between the two strongest cola brands in the world. This war exists from over a century, just to prove who is best among them. It has been observed that Coca Cola had always got an edge over Pepsi.

In order to compete with Coca Cola’s Thums Up (which has the reputation of being a strong carbonated drink and happens to be one of the most popular products of Coke); Pepsi launched Pepsi Atom. It was launched during the sixth season of Indian Premier League (IPL) tournament. Pepsi was the official sponsor of the event and to attract the youth it advertised its brand new Cola drink Pepsi Atom -The Josh Cola. Pepsi always had a substitute product in the all category to compete with Coke for Diet Coke it has Diet Pepsi, for Mirinda it has Fanta, for Sprite it has 7up and many more.

PepsiCo had spent 396 crores to buy the title sponsorship of IPL-6 and also spent around 160 crore for the tournament. The visibility of the brand was so high and it was the best opportunity to launch its second mainstream cola drink in the market. IPL is a youth targeted event and Pepsi has always been known for its youth oriented campaigns. Pepsi Atom positioned itself as much stronger, fizzier and a sharp taste drink. They planned to leverage this opportunity to get high visibility in stadiums as well as on televisions.

“The brand’s positioning redefines masculinity and portrays the modern Indian man in a new light — someone who has mind as well as body. The soon-to-be-launched communication campaign for Pepsi Atom projects the more relevant and relatable definition of masculinity, as opposed to the much hyped mindless action,” PepsiCo said.

PepsiCo hired Sushant Singh Rajput as its brand ambassador as he represents today’s youth. After the success of his first Bollywood flick, he became popular amongst the youth. The tagline was ‘Chalo aaj kuch akalmand kare!’ (Let’s do something intellectual) whereas Thums up have a tagline of ‘Aaj kucch toofani karte hain’ (Let’s do something adventurous). There is not much difference in the tagline. Even after having the best circumstances to gain the popularity in the Indian population Pepsi Atom failed to gain recognition in the market. This product had been rejected by the consumers.

Pepsi Atom

This brand failed with its Marketing Mix as well i.e. product, place, promotion, price, and packaging.

  • Product: Pepsi Atom failed against its expectation of having a strong taste. It tasted more like a cinnamon cola, and let’s just say the two don’t blend. Indian consumers mostly consume soft drinks with their food or when they are hungry. The product did not meet the expectation.

  • Place: It was available in most of the places from small retail stores to the super marts. But due to its taste, it had been discarded completely from the market.

  • Promotion: It had been promoted in the best event to attract Indian youth. i.e. IPL . The advertising campaign of Josh Cola of Pepsi “Piyo Josh Mein Jio Hosh Mein” was not that effective as Thums Up’s “Aaj Kuch Toofani Karte hain”. Sushant Singh Rajput could not beat Salman Khan as the face of this new strong cola drink.

Salman Khan Thums UpPepsi Atom










  • Price: Price of an introductory bottle of 250 ml was Rs. 15 and a 500 ml PET bottle at Rs. 25. Whereas 330 ml of Thums Up is for Rs. 25 and 600ml PET bottle at Rs 34. This product was cheaper than Thums Up but it did not even have a stand against its competitor.
  • Packaging: – The design of the PET bottle was also not very eye catchy or innovative. The design of the bottle looks very old. Pepsi is known for its youth appealing designs but it failed in its packaging with Pepsi Atom.

Pepsi Atom has been biggest failure of PepsiCo; and also the company’s market share in April this year fell to 29.7% from 32.1%, whereas Coca Cola’s market share increased tremendously to 48.3% from 45.8%over the same month last year, according to Economic Times. As Coke managed to gain market share by discounting the price of its bottles and gained an advantage of Pepsi’s disaster product Pepsi Atom- A Josh failure of Pepsi.

Pepsi being an innovative brand should have come up with a product which is more youth appealing. As in today’s time people are getting health conscious and love to consume which is healthy. Keeping this in mind they could have come up with a new product with the combination of cola and some energy ingredients making it a real energy drink rather than giving the mixture of cinnamon in cola which has become an epic disaster.

Author: Shruthi Ravishankar



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