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Pepsi may not be rolling out its new retro logo in Europe for another year, but the soft drink giant is making use of its old school theme somewhere - in new media. Pepsi's new logo, which borrows from an older aesthetic (and has noted similarities to the Obama campaign logo), is now latching on to the popularity of nostalgia shows online and pairing its new "Pepsi Throwback" with 70s and 80s shows on Hulu.

Three 15-second ads will promote Pepsi's new product made from real sugar, an ingredient that was dropped in favor of by corn syrup in American soda products 40 years. And the spots will match the enthusiasm for nostalgic shows like Hill Street Blues and The Mary Tyler Moore Show, replete with Pet Rocks, shag carpeting, and fondue pots.

Older shows and backlog movies are finding a second life on Hulu. And Pepsi is taking advantage of the short lifespan of Hulu's audience. Ana Maria Irazabal, Pepsi's U.S. brand marketing director, tells AdWeek:

"We know Millennials are craving this content. What happened in the past is not old, it's considered new because they haven't seen it before."

While a large brand like Pepsi may not need to do much to tailor its demographic to the 70s show watching population, the company has collaborated with IAC-owned youth entertainment site CollegeHumor.com, TBWA\Chiat\Day, media agency OMD, and digital strategy firm Undercurrent to make sure the ads hit the right tone.

The spots also highlight an advantage of Hulu - opportunities for highly tailored and niche marketing. While networks have limited time slots for programming, the open ended nature of Hulu allows for rennaissances for shows that may otherwise go unwatched.

And Hulu's Jason Kilar has expressed irritation with brands that simply want to transfer TV creative to the web. He told the New York Times that he is “strongly counseling brands” to carbon copying ad content on Hulu.

Hulu SVP of advertising J.P. Colaco repeated that this week:

"Our goal is to target highly relevant environments and experiences for users and for advertisers' brands which ultimately allows us to increase the effectiveness of our advertising platform. The Pepsi example is one that allows us to uniquely bring together more than 200 relevant archived shows with retro-themed advertising to create a more immersive and engaging experience." 

To that end, Hulu is experimenting with advertising formats, length, and content. Just this month, McDonald's purchased  roadbloack advertising on the site that allowed for an Ad Free Prime Time programming.

Pepsi's new upbeat campaigns may not be paying off yet, but showing that it gets how young people view entertainment helps Pepsi maintain its place as "the voice of a generation."

And it's smart for Pepsi to work with companies that understand the youth demographic. But when the answer is a simulation of nostalgia, one question pops up. Why not go with real Pepsi ads from the era? It would certainly be a lot cheaper.

Meghan Keane

Published 20 May, 2009 by Meghan Keane

Based in New York, Meghan Keane is US Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter: @keanesian.

721 more posts from this author

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