Crystal Pepsi Returns with Nostalgic Appeal

July 18, 2016

As the immense popularity of Pokémon Go shows, brands that had their heyday in the 1990s can enjoy a second life with today’s nostalgia-obsessed consumers. This summer PepsiCo intends to test the limits of that commitment to the Clinton years by reviving its clear cola brand Crystal Pepsi. The beverage originally launched in 1992 on the back of a $40 million ad campaign that included a bizarre Super Bowl commercial. PepsiCo predicted that the colorless soda would grow into a $1 billion brand. Sales soon dropped out of sight, though, leaving PepsiCo no choice but to abandon the experiment.

However, Crystal Pepsi’s massive marketing blitz ensured that the brand stayed in the minds of consumers long after it left the shelves. Those memories will be essential to the clear cola’s success on its limited return. Starting August 8th Crystal Pepsi will hit stores for a two-month stretch that PepsiCo hopes will provide a boost for its stagnating bottom line. Not only have the company’s soda sales plunged two percent in the past year, but also per capita soda consumption in the U.S. sits at a three-decade low.

Still, PepsiCo will need more than a throwback gimmick to win over modern consumers. After all, Pokémon Go isn’t simply a nostalgia trip for millennials: it combines a longstanding entertainment franchise with today’s most up-to-date technology. The appeal for the augmented reality game has been widespread, breaking through demographic barriers of all types. Crystal Pepsi, on the other hand, may only appeal to people who remember it from their youth. The product’s uniqueness could prove to be a selling point, but even that comes with a caveat since it’s exactly the same as regular Pepsi save for the color. With such a short production run, though, PepsiCo likely stands to lose little from this trip down memory lane.



  1. Does Crystal Pepsi’s branding rely too much on nostalgia to create interest?
  1. Will Crystal Pepsi appeal to a wide market?


 Source: Mike Esterl, “Crystal Pepsi Is Returning to Store Shelves,” The Wall Street Journal, June 29, 2016. Photo from Wikipedia