The Sizzle & Fizzle of Soda Pop

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Corn Syrup is the devil. Diet colas actually make you fat. Soda is the cause of childhood obesity. Blah blah blah. In the worlds of online branding, social media marketing and online advertising, ignorance is bliss when it comes to promoting America’s favorite fizzy beverages. Sure, they’ve taken some major PR hits in the past decade. But if you were to glance at soda companies’ online presence, you’d think everything was hunky dory. The publicity and promotional value of online marketing is not lost on the likes of Coke and Pepsi, and therefore every avenue has to been put into play in hopes of turning the carbonated tide of public opinion.

Pepsi has received kudos for its overhaul of Mountain Dew. Mountain Dew (or White Trash Red Bull, as it is called in certain circles) went right to social media marketing to give its trailer park image a boost. The company had big success with its “DEWmocracy” promotion, which allowed online visitors to vote for their favorite new flavor. So popular was the promotion that the company once again let the public decide on a new flavor, and the numbers this time around are even more impressive. According to an interview with Mountain Dew marketing guru Brett O’Brien in Adweek, the company has seen an increase of nearly 800,000 Facebook fans since June 2009. Consumers voted online, via text message and on social media sites. The winner? MTN Dew White Out, a clear version of the neon green, highly-caffeinated soda. Pepsi deserves a pat on the back for taking Mountain Dew out of the gutter and back on the minds of young soda drinkers.

Maybe they could help out the folks at Diet Coke. If there ever were a beverage that suffered a groin kick it would be Diet Coke. DC, the ’90s drink for models trying to get off cocaine, has been in a slump thanks in large part to bad press and a stagnant image problem. Sadly, despite Coca-Cola’s best efforts, the brand seems stuck in an era gone by. The website tries to imitate a health-conscious sort of lifestyle magazine with recipes and a video series aimed at the US Magazine crowd. It’s a clunky, slow-moving website with a flatter taste than a Fresca left out in the sun. Facebook and Twitter are in play, but again, they aren’t really being fully explored so it’s hard to say how effective they are.

Still, it appears that all soda companies are doing something right. Time magazine reported last week that sales are up 2.5% for the first time in five years. But let’s hear from you, Popheads. Spill you favorite guilty pleasure soda or gripe about bad beverage ideas in the comments section below!

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