CLIENT OF THE WEEK: A different taste for Diet Pepsi

Simon Lowden’s plans for Diet Pepsi have more local flavour, Harriet Green says.

Simon Lowden’s plans for Diet Pepsi have more local flavour,

Harriet Green says.

Simon Lowden, Pepsi UK’s marketing manager, is refreshingly upfront

about the dangers of pushing over-Americanised ads to a cynical UK


So, last week the US cola giant launched a quirky, distinctly British

campaign promoting its Diet Pepsi brand (Campaign, 11 July).

The three 20-second films, by Pepsi’s UK agency, Abbott Mead Vickers

BBDO, represent the first UK work behind the brand since 1993. The films

feature a girl so taken by the taste of her Diet Pepsi that she is

oblivious of the disasters happening around her.

The creative work may be new but the strategy isn’t. Lowden made sure

the UK work was written to a global brief. He says: ’If you are working

on a global brand you must have a global strategy. But you need to make

it appropriate for local markets. Over the past two years, advertising

in the UK has been slightly too American. It’s a sign of confidence that

this is an example of a major brand not taking its work from the US. The

new campaign doesn’t take itself too seriously.’

The UK has retained the American campaign idea down to the endline,

’This is Diet?’. The manner of execution, however, highlights the

difference between the two cultures - while the US work by BBDO New York

was slickly directed and ’cheesy’, as Lowden puts it, the UK campaign is

more obviously hammy in feel.

Lowden, 29, joined Pepsi a year-and-a-half ago to work across Pepsi,

Diet Pepsi and Pepsi Max. He says: ’The cola market is very challenging

and we have a big competitor who consistently outspends us.’ As part of

recent promotions behind the brand, he has met Danni Minogue and the

Spice Girls (his four-year-old son apparently kissed Baby Spice).

Lowden started his marketing career at Unilever in 1989. As well as his

enthusiasm for Pepsi (he drinks Pepsi Max), it’s marketing that really

gets him excited. ’I love spending time with people who are passionate

about brands, seeing brand share go up and getting a buzz out of seeing

an ad you developed on air,’ he says.

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