The Other Red vs. Blue

 By Shamus May 4, 2007 30 comments

Hey, what is with all the Coke blogging lately? I don’t watch TV, so I don’t know what is causing this. Is there a new ad campaign on?

Some people take this cola stuff very seriously, and get upset if they can’t get the brand they want. I don’t understand this, because I am one of those people who can’t taste the difference. Maybe I’d be able to tell if I had the two drinks together, but if you put one in front of me I couldn’t tell you which one it was without looking at the container.

I drink Pepsi more often, but it’s only because I don’t have to reach down to get it. I always drink caffene-free, and at the nearby Sheetz the cold caffene-free Pepsi is at eye level and the caffene-free Coke is a few shelves down. I’d have to bend slightly to get the Coke. If they moved the Coke up and the Pepsi down, I’d probably become a Coke drinker. If the two were on the same level I might keep buying Pepsi out of habit, or I might buy whichever brand was closer to my hand once I pulled the door open. I suppose we’d need to set up a controlled experiment to find the truth. (Actually, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn that a great deal of money was being spent studying this very problem. Fickle, apathetic customers like me are the worst.)

I will hand them this, Coke has the best ads:

LATER: Alex settles the debate like a true Aussie.

201030 comments. (A twenty-sided die has 30 edges.)


  1. Thpbltblt says:

    The two noticeable differences I’ve found between Coke and Pepsi are that Coke seems to have more carbonation, and Pepsi seems to be a bit sweeter. And as you mentioned, to notice these things (for me, anyway) one should have a sample of each on hand to perform a taste test with.

  2. LethalSpoon says:

    As usual, to be completely honest, I think they both taste like ash. I, myself, am a Mountain Dew guy.

  3. Arson55 says:

    I’ll drink Pepsi sometimes, but I won’t drink Coke at all. I can taste a noticeable difference between them, myself. But when it really comes down to it I go elsewhere with my soft drink needs. Give me a Dr. Pepper or a Big Red.

  4. Phobiac says:

    I love the take on GTA it makes. It makes you think though, with all the power you end up acquiring by the time you complete the game you could do a lot of good, yet your only choice is really to run around blowing stuff up.
    Although, when it comes to a game, that’s arguably more fun.

  5. Matt says:

    I’ve heard that companies actually have to pay quite a bit of money to get their stuff shelved at eye level in supermarkets. Anything at eye level will outsell the products that people have to bend a bit for.

  6. GEBIV says:

    I guess the next question is then: who has more money to spend, 6’5″ people or 4’11″. That’s two different shelves at eye level…

  7. LafinJack says:

    To be fair, that ad has been out for a long, long time. I don’t watch TV either and I saw it after movie trailers as long as a year ago.

  8. DocTwisted says:

    I can taste the difference between Coke and Pepsi. The best I can think of to describe it is… Coke has a more acidic taste. Not to say it’s worse, just not as sweet as Pepsi. I see them as different but equal. I can’t drink anything with caffine in it nearly as much as I used to, it causes acid reflux to kick in now if I have more than a single can at a time.

    Oh, if you ever get a chance though, try a Mexican Coca-Cola. They taste quite superior, there’s something different about their formula. If you have a Mexican grocer in the town you’re in those usually carry them.

  9. “They taste quite superior, there’s something different about their formula

    As I understand it, that’s real sugar. Various price manipulations in the US by the government result in corn syrup being significantly cheaper than sugar.

    On an entirely different topic, it seems to me that just about all drink preferences are learned, so the old “which is better” topic has never interested me, especially when people start posturing about how superior they are for preferring coffee over your insipid cola, or their wildly superior [local beer] over your [horse urine]. It’s cool that nobody has yet done that here. :)

  10. Shamus says:

    It’s cool that nobody has yet done that here.

    Once I saw a perfectly normal blog degenerate into a vortex of flames and sneering when someone brought up Miracle-Whip. Thankfully nobody has done that.

    DOH!

  11. Sauron says:

    Now, I personally prefer Mountain Dew, but I venture into the colas more than your average Mountain Dew addict. I can drink both Pepsi and Coke, and I most definitely can tell the difference between the two by taste. The thing that always gets me, though, is that I prefer Pepsi because I think *Coke* is too sweet and Pepsi has that “just right” bitterness, but everybody (except for my family, who agrees) tells me that I have it backwards. Now, not to get into the Great Cola Debate, but does anybody have any idea how the hell my family is so backward in the taste from the rest of the world?

    Oh, and, Shamus, I certainly hope this doesn’t turn into a Miracle Whip/Mayo war, because I am more vehement about mayo over Miracle Whip than I am about Pepsi over Coke….

  12. Hamish says:

    US coke with corn syrup is sweeter than NZ (or Mexican or Kosher apparently) coke with sugar. That’s as far as my taste testing has gone so far.

  13. neminem says:

    Wait, all drink preferences are learned? How do you explain the fact, then, that everyone around me drinks soda, and always has, for as far back as I can remember… yet I absolutely can’t stand the stuff? Soda is nasty, no matter which brand of soda it is.

    I’ll make an exception for root beer, though; I still don’t like the carbonation, but at least it tastes decent.

  14. Vegedus says:

    I agree with the first post about the taste, but it’s not like I really care enough to go after one or another. Brand loyalty, to me, is proof that the massive ad campaigns are working and totally screwing peoples minds over. It’s sad, really.

  15. Matt` says:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mountain_Dew#Non-Pepsi_bottlers

    Look at the first one – “West Jefferson Dr Pepper is the last bottler in the U.S. to produce Mountain Dew with cane sugar (instead of High Fructose Corn Syrup)”

    Although now I think about it, that still leaves the possibility that the Mexicans are using cane sugar..

  16. Browncoat says:

    That was a good commercial, but I prefer the Pepsi v. Coke Super Bowl commercials of the past. And it’s not because I prefer Pepsi (it’s strange how easy it is for me to see Coca-Cola as an evil company and Pepsi as a Benefactor simply because I prefer the latter. Is that wrong?); the best commercial of them all is the Coke commercial with Mean Joe Greene.

    If you disagree, you’re welcome to tell him.

  17. Harvey says:

    I can’t seem to find the latest Pepsi ads online, but they’ve come out with a campaign where the angle is copping an sneering, derisive attitude about what a superior product Pepsi is.

    It’s hip, it’s edgy, and it’s annoying the crap out of me.

  18. Strangeite says:

    Can’t taste a difference? That is crazy. I am a Coke drinker and will refuse Pepsi when that is the only choice. Granted I have a far more sensitive palate then the average person but still, it boggles my mind that you can’t taste the difference.

  19. Katy says:

    Taste preferences can definitely change — I worked at the local Pepsi bottler the summer before college, and grew to like Pepsi (nothing like free soft drinks to change your tastes), but the college cafeteria and vending machines were all Coca-cola products, and my tastes changed pretty fast. These days, I prefer Coke if I’m having a cola, but mostly stick with water.

  20. Rich says:

    I used to love Mountain Dew, until I found out that it has vegetable oil in it. Brominated vegetable oil. Yuck.

  21. Dev Null says:

    Sauron is a Mountain Dew fan – which surprises me not at all; just Dew it! – but thinks his family has the which is sweeter story the wrong way round.

    Apparently some people’s taste buds just work differently. For most people Diet drinks taste significantly sweeter than normal ones, because the artificial sweeteners they use are on the order of 10 times as powerful a sweetener as sugar. Except… something like 5-10% of the population actually tastes them as bitter, rather than sweet, which is part of why so many people hate diet drinks. I only learned this from one of my friends, who is in the bitter minority, but LIKES the bitter flavour, so he only drinks diet for the taste.

    So if you’re talking about diet drinks Sauron, that may be what’s up. If you drink regular, well… it still goes to show that different peoples taste buds just plain work different.

  22. Rebecca says:

    Try Kosher coke if you can get your hands on it. It’s made with sucrose, not glycerin.

  23. Rebecca says:

    And, sorry to double-post, but the Coca-Cola company is making a big mistake, in my opinion, by trying to block import of Mexican Coke into America. Obviously there is an untapped market in America for soft drinks sweetened with cane sugar instead of corn syrup, and is probably willing to pay extra for these drinks. Hey, if Coca-Cola sold something with real sugar in it, I might be able to choke it down instead of sticking to my sweet tea.

  24. Tarmo says:

    Interesting, it’s the same commercial, that they show here (here being Estonia, on the far side of the globe for you ;), yet it’s longer, our version has small snippets cut out of it, a second here, two secs there.

    Not that it makes really any difference, but it was just a fun fact, which I noticed.

  25. gedece says:

    Am I the only one that actually prefers plain old water?

  26. H3adlin3 says:

    There is a book on marketing called “Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind” that puts forth the theory that the human mind will only focus on two choices, and it (with an exception) will only accecpt as ‘good’ the first of a thing it tries/is exposed to. If the first cola you try/or hear of is Coke, then you are a Coke person. Unless you are of a ‘rebel’ mind set, then the second place product, Pepsi, will appeal to you as the cola that goes against the status quo. And you become a Pepsi person. All of the lower place colas are out of luck, unless they’ve created a market nice for themselves, and can dominate in that area. It explains why there is always a market leader, a close second, and a bunch of also-rans. A company can screw this up by trying to cross over to the other side, where the ‘main-stream’ product tries to be the rebel, and vise-versa. New Coke for example, was Coke’s attempt to update its image, appeal to a younger crowd. Well it’s been hard-wired into your brain that Coke means certain things: tradition, family, stability, so what’s up with this new coke? this isn’t my Coke! I want a Coke! It’s why Pepsi focuses on the ‘younger’ generation, even though it’s been around almost as long as Coke.The book pretty much says that through the power of marketing, most of us have been brain washed to associate the idea of a product with the product itself, and this in turn radically (some might say completely) affects our purchasing decisions.Coke or Pepsi?Bud or Miller?Kellogs or Post?DnD or WoD?

  27. Mark says:

    Just to answer your initial question, the rash of recent Coke blogging appears to be the result of my laziness in choosing a topic for a blog post (no new ad campaigns or anything). The Scalzi link, for instance, was from last year (and he originally wrote it in 1998). I saw another link recently, and I needed to write a blog post quick, so I just slapped it together with a few links and pull quotes (my typical formula for lazy blogging). It took off from there.

  28. Weldun says:

    They still use sugar in Coke in Australia too. Personally, while I’ll drink Pepsi, I won’t pay for it. Coke, I’ll pay for. As for the shelf-height stuff, well, just check out this pdf

  29. Julia says:

    I’ve been able to buy Mexican Coke in Austin. I do that about once a month. I like Mexican Coke.

    I will drink regular Cherry Coke. I won’t touch Coke in any other form, unless I’m desperate for the caffeine. I don’t like Pepsi, period, and choking it down would be harder than choking down regular Coke if I were that desperate for the caffeine. (I’d probably look for Mountain Dew and just drink less of it. That’s still repugnant to me.)

  30. Nu says:

    I know you’ve been pointed to the Flashbeer and the Tallmen ad.. here’s the really big ad.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eH3GH7Pn_eA

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