These Pretzels are Making Me Thirsty!

Are you living the life you chose? Are you living the life that chose you?”

When I first heard this line from self-described ‘literate redneck’ rocker Jason Isbell, I was immediately struck by it. It’s not like it was a novel idea (living one’s life with purpose) or even worded in a particularly eloquent way. I think it was something in the vocal quality that cut through and grabbed me. It’s plaintive and confrontational on one hand, but ultimately sympathetic. Maybe the question he poses is rhetorical as much as for the audience. 

Why do we zig and zag rather than taking the straightest line possible on the road to happiness?

Forgetting that the song is a cautionary tale about keeping sight of one’s true north rather than chasing the shiny object, it got me to think about marketing. I’ve been in marketing for some time. I’ve never once intentionally misled anyone. I have, however, been guilty of taking the audience on a needlessly long drive for what was fundamentally a short trip.  Rather than simply ‘asking for the order’ there were elaborate analogies, sidebars and not entirely related supporting evidence. 

That’s why I’m in love with the new PepCoin campaign. Marketing is foundationally a quid pro quo exercise. The customer gives something(s) like time, attention, and (usually) money in exchange for something— a feeling, a benefit, a satisfaction…on top of the physical product or service. 

Coke did seminal work touting soft benefits with campaigns like its legendary, “The Pause that Refreshes”. Lay your money down and get an icy Coke. But also a much needed break from life’s races and an opportunity to revive. It was brilliant in connecting an emotional benefit to a physical product. 

The Yin to Coke’s Yang is, not surprisingly, Pepsi.  

Where as Coke appealed to the heart, Pepsi is going straight for the head. It’s an entirely rational argument and one I predict will be wildly successful. 

PepsiCo is made up of beverages (led by Pepsi) and snacks (Frito-Lay). In a perfect world, people would never leave the store with one but not the other. They really play off of each other perfectly. Why take a chance they won’t?

Pepsi’s new PepCoin campaign just puts it right out there: “Earn cash back anytime you buy both specially marked PepsiCo Drinks and Frito-Lay snacks.”

I get that. I think everybody will. 

But what’s in it for me? You ask. What’s the benefit— emotional or otherwise?

Cash. Buy PepsiCo beverages and snacks, scan the on-pack codes and get up to 10% back (in either PayPal or Venmo no less). In a world of marketing obfuscation where we’re pecked to death by ducks, this just hits you between the eyes. 

I, for one, respect this. I think we’ll be seeing much more of it. I don’t have to go to a microsite or landing page for a schematic on how it works. Pepsi+Fritos=Cash. Got it. If it was buy a Pepsi plus baby carrots or paper towels, it wouldn’t work as well. But these things go together. It’s about time someone rewarded the customer for simply doing the smart play. Cash back is a reward for loyal patronage as much as an incentive for incremental purchase or even trial. 

Either way, why ask why?

They’re going to reward me for washing down some Doritos with an ice cold Dew? 

Oh, alright. It’s the life I chose.