If something is recognized in the world of marketing, it is the rivalry that exists between various brands and perhaps one of the most emblematic is that between Coca-Cola and Pepsi.
The counterpoints between the two companies are visible from different angles, which on more than one occasion has even been used to launch interesting advertising campaigns.
In this way, Coca-Cola and Pepsi have historically been in an all-out fight. In a game that in most cases could be read as “what the hand does behind it”, neither of the two firms has wanted to leave space for their rival to stay only in one category; however, that is about to change.
For some years now, Coca-Cola has implemented a strong strategy to expand its portfolio. The idea is to reduce dependence on its star products that right now seem to go against market trends.
The firm has recently decided to enter the market for soft drinks with alcohol, a category that has seen particularly significant growth in recent years.
While these announcements have moved many pieces on the industry board, the truth is that for Pepsi these are moves that will be overlooked.
The brand has subtly discredited the strategy of its rival since it has reported that it will not enter the competition in this field because it considers that soft drinks with alcohol are a fad with little future when compared to other categories that grow exponentially.
Despite the fact that these types of movements are recurrent and the rivalry is evident, the reality is that Pepsi once managed to save Coca-Cola by protecting one of its most valuable assets: the secret formula of its main drink.
The balance of ingredients has made the formula behind Coca-Cola’s flagship soft drink an asset that more than one competitor wanted to get their hands on.
At least Gary Wenk, director of neuroscience undergraduate programs at Ohio State University and author of Your Brain on Food, says so, who told CNN that Coca-Cola’s formula triggers the release of dopamine in a known region like the nucleus accumbens, and as a result causes euphoria. “The sugar in drinks … it goes through the brain, you get the dopamine that rewards you, and then the effect of the dopamine surge wears off almost as quickly as it came, leaving your brain wanting more”, Highlights the academic.
Not long ago, Pepsi, Coca-Cola’s biggest rival, had a great opportunity to stick with this formula, but the story took an unexpected turn.
The story happened around 2006, when Joya Williams, an executive at Coca-Cola, along with Edmund Duhaney and Ibrahim Dimson, also employees of the company, tried to sell to Pepsi classified information and the secret formula of the famous drink by $ 1.5 million.
The promise was simple. Coca-Cola was preparing to launch a new version of its renowned drink and the trio promised to give their rival the information in exchange for the sum before this would happen and with enough time to replicate and even improve.
As mentioned by various media, “Williams was the provider of information within the company and Dimson acted as a negotiator with Pepsi. The trio began to send information to the company through an ‘official’ letter, sent by an alleged senior Coca-Cola official (Dimson), telling them that Coca-Cola had a secret project, and that they themselves would provide them with all the information related to that mysterious drink that Coca-Cola was going to launch in the following months, based on its famous formula ”.
The truth is that this trio never counted on Pepsi, although it recognizes the rivalry it has with Coca-Cola, would play fair.
Pepsi contacted Coca-Cola to give notice of what happened, with which an operation was carried out to reveal the “trap” in May of that same year.
An FBI agent posed as a Pepsi worker. He contacted Dimson for the promised information as well as a sample of the alleged “new product.”
Once the Coca-Cola employees decided to agree and carry out the plan through the undercover agent, they were arrested.
The learning is clear. Pepsi knew it might have an opportunity before it that perhaps no other company would have turned down.
However, he decided to stick to fair competition in search of something more important than sales: his reputation.
As has been shown, this type of practice sooner or later comes to light and it is likely that if it had fallen for the tempting proposal, Pepsi would occupy a different position in the market but it would have been known that it did so at the cost of an unfair practice that it is by no means welcomed by the consumer.