A Lesson from "Pepsi Blue"

Last Updated Mar 20, 2008 5:40 PM EDT

Blue Pepsi image by Not Persephone [cc, 2.0]The early adopters are always coming up with creative ways to subvert the system. Many see aggressive marketing - rightly so in most cases - as something ripe for criticism. So most online aficionados have adopted a code-word. The code-word is not only something to watch out for (and perhaps to keep your marketing department in check), but it's also a reflection of a moment that online users revolted against a big corporation to take the power back into their hands. The code-word was "Pepsi Blue."

Whenever you see "Pepsi Blue" on a message board, comment section, or review section of a site be wary - someone, somewhere on the page is posing as a consumer but is truly an undercover marketing agent -- "Pepsi Blue" is an attempt to call it out to the rest of users. The story behind the phrase is just as interesting. Apparently, back in 2002, Pepsi launched a new beverage known as "Pepsi Blue." Part of their campaign involved an agressive linking and word of mouth effort online. Not only did it fail miserably, but the title of the product also took on a new meaning (probably much to Pepsi's chagrin).

Take this example. It's a discussion started by a semi-anonymous poster stating:

I dont know whether to be upset or envious? Dont know about the kid market but i could totally see this for "older" (read my mom) consumers.

In a long thread another user responded to this post, calling it out as a half-hearted attempt at subversive marketing:

There are a few things that strike me as very pepsi Blue-ish, for example: A single link post to a products page. A single link post to a viral ad, shilling a product.

I've seeing the types of posts mentioned above quite a lot recently. I love ads, mind you, so I jump on those viral ad posts like the ad-addict I am, but I still wonder, is it really appropriate for Metafilter?

The phone might be neat, but it's a product for sale on that page available in the USA only


Marketers, beware! The consumers are smart now. The only thing you can do is out-smart 'em.

Blue Pepsi image by Not Persephone [cc, 2.0]