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The Pepsi Challenge

Many of us remember the old Pepsi challenge commercials, where blind taste tests vs. Coke showed people preferring Pepsi.  One of the interesting results of these commercials was that Pepsi gained market share, but Coke did not lose it -- much of the Pepsi market share gain came from other brands.  In essence, the commercials established in consumer's minds that the cola choice was Coke or Pepsi, and so it did as much for Coke as it did Pepsi.

So now take this experience to anti-smoking commercials.  It turns out that they may backfire:

The more anti-smoking ads middle schoolers see, the more likely they are to smoke, according to a study in the August issue of Communication Research. Hye-Jin Paek, an assistant professor at the University of Georgia's College of Journalism and Mass Communication, and Albert Gunther, a professor of life sciences communication at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, analyzed data from surveys that asked middle school students about their exposure to anti-smoking messages and their intention to smoke:

They found that, overall, the more the students were exposed to anti-smoking messages, the more inclined they were to smoke. The exception—where exposure to anti-smoking ads correlated with a reduced intention to smoke—occurred among students who said their friends were influenced by anti-smoking messages.

In the context of other advertising research, such as the old Coke/Pepsi campaign, this is not surprising.  It is even less surprising for this type of ad, where a certain amount of anti-authoritarian response can be expected.  In fact, I have seen a number of ads that use this anti-authoritarian streak and distrust of the government as a feature.  Ads that say "The government doesn't want you to know about X" or "What the oil companies don't want you to know."

I wonder when the first member of the plaintiff's bar will initiate a lawsuit against the tobacco companies for promoting teenage smoking by running... anti-smoking ads.

Posted on July 23, 2007 at 10:03 AM | Permalink


My gosh, I would go crazy obsessing about getting ripped off like that. I don't have the stomach for business.

Posted by: UGN | Dec 31, 2007 12:07:39 AM

why are you say "pepsi challenge"? no infomation in your page about that.

Posted by: | Jan 5, 2008 12:41:05 AM


Posted by: Test | Mar 16, 2008 8:17:00 PM

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