For me, nothing is more synonymous with the 90’s than Crystal Pepsi. It was a two year experiment that has a delicious beginning and a controversial ending.
Crystal Pepsi was launched in 1992 in an effort to capitalize on the marketing fad labeled the “Clear Craze”.
Everybody was going clear, because clear represented purity for some reason. Transparent stuff represented clarity. So, symbolism?
Anyway, it was first tested in some smaller markets and upon positive reviews, was rolled out nation wide.
Pepsi was all in. They went with a full-scale marketing campaign, including thousands of free samples, a series of tv ads, and the priciest of all advertising efforts: A Super Bowl commercial.
But it worked! Pepsi made $474 million in its first year.
Creator of Crystal Pepsi, David C. Novak, admits that its the best idea he’s ever had. But, here’s where things take a turn.
David C. Novak also confesses it was his worst executed idea. His team kept telling him they should solve the issues with the taste. If they were given a little more time, they could get it to taste exactly like regular Pepsi. He was eager to get the product on the shelves and chose to forgo their suggestions. Some people, like my brother, think the taste of Crystal Pepsi is better than original Pepsi, so who’s to say who’s right or wrong anyway.
This is where things get really diabolical. Remember Tab Clear? Coca Cola’s boring version of Crystal Pepsi? Probably not, and that was the idea.
Coca Cola’s chief marketing officer, Sergio Zyman, admitted that Tab was an intentional “kamikaze” effort to create a wildly unpopular drink in order to “kill both in the process”.
The idea was to create a competitor to Crystal Pepsi, but market it as a sugar-free diet drink in hopes that they would confuse the general public. It worked.
People started to think that Crystal Pepsi was also a sugar-free health drink and they were being scammed out of their demand of sugar. Once Coca Cola launched their brand, both Tab and Crystal Pepsi were dead within six months.
Talk about a Dr. Evil hatched scheme.
But, as you’re well aware, the story has a happy ending.
In March 2015, a massive online fan campaign began to bring back the beloved soft drink. By July of 2016, Crystal Pepsi was back on the shelves as a limited time promotion.
With its very interesting backstory, a hiatus long enough to create nostalgia, and a fantastic youtube commercial, it has had enough demand to return every summer since.
For this 90’s crazed fan, I hope it returns every summer until McDonalds Pizza is brought back nation wide. Your move, McDonalds.
Until then, I’ll leave you with this picture of the most 90’s looking man you’ve ever seen.