The Pepsi Generation was the theme of an advertising campaign for Pepsi-Cola, a U.S. brand of soft drink, that launched in 1963. It was the brainchild of Alan Pottasch, a Pepsico advertising executive. It invited consumers to "Come Alive! You're the Pepsi Generation!"
Earlier campaigns for Pepsi-Cola had emphasized price competition. Twelve ounce Pepsi bottles gave you twice as much soft drink as six ounce standard Coca-Cola bottles, and Coca-Cola was by far the leading brand of soft drink. Pepsi formerly ran a campaign that featured the jingle:
- Pepsi-Cola hits the spot
Twelve full ounces, that's a lot!
Twice as much for a nickel, too
Pepsi-Cola is the drink for you.
This jingle focused on the simple proposition that Pepsi was just as good as Coke, but a better value. The Pepsi Generation campaign represented a major shift away from that line of thinking; rather than being just as good as Coke, Pepsi was different from Coke. The Pepsi Generation and its associated jingle —
- You've got a lot to live
And Pepsi's got a lot to give.
told Pepsi drinkers, now enrolled in the Pepsi Generation, that Pepsi-Cola was taking a stand with the "young" side of the 1960 era "generation gap". Television ads featuring the campaign typically displayed young people pursuing exotic entertainments like motorcycle or watercycle riding or piloting a windship through a desert, while an announcer described Pepsi drinkers as people who saw the "young view of things". "Who is the Pepsi Generation? Livelier, active people with a liking for Pepsi-Cola!" Previous Coca-Cola advertisements had featured Norman Rockwell styled images of small towns and nostalgic scenes, as well as traditional figures such as Santa Claus. Pepsi told soft drink consumers that there are Coke people, and there are Pepsi people, and if you're a Pepsi person you are young, and the future's on your side.
Pottasch, creator of the campaign, said that "For us to name and claim a whole generation after our product was a rather courageous thing that we weren't sure would take off." The "Pepsi Generation" was one of the first and best known instances of what came to be known as "lifestyle marketing". It focused on portraying Pepsi drinkers as possessing desirable qualities such as youth, rather than on the characteristics of the product itself. Pottasch said that "Pepsi was young, spirited, people doing active things—playing volleyball on the beach.... but younger we said in mind, in attitude, in feeling. Young in spirit. Young in heart."
Pottasch repeated the themes of the Pepsi Generation with the 1984 campaign, "The Choice of a New Generation".
- Peter G. Norback, Craig T. Norback, Kenneth Costa, eds., Great songs of Madison Avenue (Univ. Mich., 2009; ISBN 0-8129-0626-8)
- Thomas Frank, The Conquest of Cool: Business Culture, Counterculture, and the Rise of Hip Consumerism (University of Chicago Press, 1998; ISBN 0-226-26012-7), p. 175
- Sergio Zyman and Armin Brott, The End of Advertising as We Know It (John Wiley and Sons, 2003; ISBN 0-471-42966-X), pp. 71-73
- Jocelyn Y. Stewart, "Alan Pottasch, 79; ad exec helped create 'Pepsi Generation' campaign, obituary in The Los Angeles Times, Aug. 2, 2007.