This is an interesting case on how Coke which leads Pepsi in most market areas is actually lagging behind in Quebec. This is because Coke simply translates their English ads into French, while Pepsi customized its message and connected the brand with the people of Quebec.
Its latest TV spot may be its best yet. Here’s the scene: A Scandinavian-sounding tourist, with the insouciance of Mr. Bean, walks into a casse-croûte somewhere in Quebec’s hinterland and makes the mistake of ordering a Coke. The snack bar falls silent. Wildlife stops in the forest. Traffic grinds to a halt in Old Quebec. People stick their heads out of upper-floor windows. When the waiter finally pops open a can of the blue-and-red in front of him, the tourist clues in: ” Ah! Ici, c’est Pepsi.”
A memorable 2006 ad, also by BBDO, involved a runaway Pepsi coin machine that, after sliding off a delivery truck, rolls by a series of Québécois landmarks. When it reaches the border, it hesitates and turns back.
The ads reinforce the audience’s connection with what it means to be a Quebecker through icons (both people and objects). The Pepsi brand eventually becomes associated with these icons. Thus, Quebeckers feel that Pepsi is a part of Quebec. This is again another example of how well established brands can use Tribal Elements via mass media.
As the article states, Pepsi has been doing their ads differently since the mid-1980s. This approach has resulted in a significant change in market share.
Pepsi actually lagged Coke in the Quebec market until the mid-80s. While Pepsi’s early-80s New Generation campaign, featuring Michael Jackson, was a hit globally, it didn’t do much for the brand in Quebec. So the soft drink maker then turned to comedian Claude Meunier (then one-half of the province’s answer to Cheech and Chong) to launch Quebec-only ads for the first time.
The impact was nearly instantaneous. Whereas Pepsi sales lagged those of Coke by about 15 per cent in 1984, two years later, Pepsi had a 12-point advance. Its lead grew to 20 per cent by the early 1990s. A Pepsi spokesperson refused to provide current figures, but insisted the brand still dominates Coke in Quebec.
(bold added for emphasis)