“Cola War, huh! What is it good for?”

Healthy competition and an excuse to write this article on the ongoing battle for our caffeinated hearts and sugar-addled minds between the two giants of fizzy beverage.

I’m sure Edwin Starr would’ve come up with something snappier, but he’s not employed here.

The battleground has changed since the 1980s. We no longer look to the highway billboards, the ads in National Enquirer or the million-dollar Bill Cosby endorsements on MTV to witness the blows each corporation delivered to its aluminium coated opponent. 

Now the war is fought across a vastly different field. One that couldn’t possibly have been predicted 30 years ago when our sole interests lay in watching Michael J Fox climbing over cars in the rain. 

We imagined future battles taking place on the moon, or via a Virtual Reality headset or at least a vaguely futuristic looking air-hockey table.  We were wrong.

Social media is the modern day arena where all the most catastrophic shots are fired (we now call them tweets). It’s also where loyal troops are enlisted (we now call them Facebook friends) and collateral damage is a sad yet necessary outcome (we call it Google+).

So let’s see how these mighty warriors are squaring up to one other in the 21st Century and how much attention they are paying to the rules of engagement.


Since David Moth reviewed Coca-Cola’s social media activity in April last year, Coca-Cola’s Facebook audience has increased from 63m to 87m.

An increase that big, for a brand that’s already fully established as one of the biggest in the world is hardly surprising. 

David also pointed out that “one of the privileges that comes with its international celebrity is the ability to leave its Facebook page unattended for long periods of time.” Unlike other brands that may have retail stores or ecommerce sites to drive traffic towards, Coca-Cola doesn’t have to worry about such matters, instead it concentrates on maintaining brand identity.

Which means that Coca-Cola is perfectly comfortable with the fact it hasn’t updated its Facebook page for a few weeks. I imagine summer is not a time when Coca-Cola sales dip.

So what’s the good stuff here? I like the social based competitions that tie into its hugely popular and long running Share a Coke campaign.

Comments are a predictable mixture of the mundane and the inflammatory, which is what you get when you’re a corporation of this magnitude. You can perhaps understand why there’s very little two-way conversation here. If you start replying to one conspiracy theorist accusing your company of murder then when do you stop?

Perhaps it’s glib but there is a huge leaning towards cultural and environmental causes on the page.

Although these posts don’t achieve the same amount of shares and likes as the competition based ones or similar marketing based messages, it’s still worth noting that Coca-Cola is aware of its clout and uses the platform in order to make a difference, or at least appear to.

Since last summer, Pepsi’s social activity on Facebook has increased from 17m followers to 33m. A third of the amount that Coca-Cola has, but an increase of nearly 50%.

David Moth pointed out in last year’s review how Pepsi’s Facebook page hasn’t been updated for one year. Well things have slightly improved. It has been updated since then. Although the last update was two months ago, so we may be seeing the start of another lengthy break.

The most apparent thing about Pepsi’s Facebook page is how much more effort it went into promoting content around the World Cup. There are approximately 15 posts relating directly or indirectly to football or #FutbolNow featuring competitions, trivia games and music videos. 

Compare this to official sponsors Coca-Cola and its precisely zero effort in 2014. It’s little surprise that 71% of online shares for World Cup related ads have come from non-sponsors.


Coca-Cola is an impressive force on Twitter. 

With 2.63m followers for its main page, it regularly tweets its own content and marketing messages, but also has a ridiculously thorough strategy of replying to its followers’ tweets.

This is just today’s effort…

Coca-Cola also runs a separate slightly more corporate account, which is more concerned with business, finance and PR based matters.

This is where the really nitty-gritty questions get answered. Some of this is probably not that interesting to the average Cola fan, but it’s an intriguing look behind the curtain nonetheless.

Pepsi has surprisingly nudged ahead of Coca-Cola on Twitter, with its 2.66m followers.

Pepsi seems to tweet more often than its rival, however there is very little engagement here save for a few lucky competition winners. 

Historically Pepsi has always relied heavily on its musical endorsements and partnerships and the same goes on this channel. Basically if you’re not a fan of artists Prince Royal (don’t know) or Ariana Grande (she has a video where she fires rockets out of her breasts. Yep.) then you’re probably not going to care much about what’s going on here. It’s certainly not going anywhere near customer care.


This is where things get really exciting. Instagram and Vine are the perfect mobile-first and inherently creative visual playgrounds for Coca-Cola and Pepsi to engage with a younger demographic on.

Image wise it’s a great collection of retro advertisements, happy consumers smiling faces and some clever plays on perspective.

The real joy here is from the frequent Instagram video posts.

Deeply imaginative, attractively shot and best of all, fun.

Pepsi has a fraction of the followers, and also a fraction of the fun and creativity.

The slightly ropey photography doesn’t help.

I love Janelle Monae but I’d be slightly more impressed if it used a photo where her eyes are open.

As for Instagram Video, most of it borders on the pointless.

Or the tedious.


Rarely does a month go by without Coca-Cola appearing in my monthly round-up of best Vines. It really is a channel worth following.

It has nailed the low-fi creative charm of the best non-branded Vines.

Has encouraged the creativity of its followers.

And worked in collaboration with other Viners.

Pepsi’s channel had a cracking start to the year with its #Halftime campaign where Pepsi highlighted the Viners best videos showing how they spend the Super Bowl half-time.

Unfortunately there has been nothing since February. It’s a shame because Pepsi Max’s UK channel has been picking up the slack recently with these stop motion gems.


In conclusion…

When it comes to social media I feel like I’m getting nothing from Pepsi. I have no particular affinity towards either brand, I don’t even drink cola, but at least Coca-Cola has a consistently entertaining content marketing strategy that impresses and manages to raise a smile on frequent occasions. 

Pepsi feels very surface based, relying on flash-in-the-pan stars who offer little depth beyond some meaningless sound-bites and reasonably attractive face. 

It’s the sort of thing you could get away with in the 80s. Not any more.

Coca Cola’s VP Javier Sanches-Lamelas will speaking our Festival of Marketing event in November, a two day celebration of the modern marketing industry featuring speakers from brands including Tesco, LEGO, Barclays and more.