POSTED BY: Stephen Walsh

The Cola Wars

30th May, 2018

You’re either a Coca-Cola drinker or a Pepsi drinker. And that’s not by accident. The rivalry between the two brands is legendary, starting over a century ago and has taken many forms from marketing to product development.

One example I found interesting (and entertaining) with these two global brands battling it out was with Crystal Pepsi vs. Tab Clear.

Crystal Pepsi was a fizzy drink created by Pepsi that was introduced in the early 90’s. Legend has it that it was made to taste just like a normal Pepsi, but with a citrus flavoured spinoff to the fizzy drink we all know. It was marketed as a caffeine-free ‘clear alternative’ to normal cola with its slogan “you’ve never seen a taste like this.”

But things got interesting after Crystal Pepsi was released. Coca Cola fought back and released a competitor called Tab Clear. The new drink had the same concept – ice clear cola while still delivering the same taste.

However, rumour has it that Tab Clear was intentionally marketed poorly in order to hurt Crystal Pepsi’s image.

According to Coca-Cola’s Chief Marketing Officer Sergio Zyman:

Tab Clear was an intentionally suicidal kamikaze effort to create an unpopular beverage that was positioned as an analogue of Crystal Pepsi in order to kill both in the process. The born to die strategy included using the poor-performing Tab brand rather than Coke, labeling the product as a sugar free diet drink to confuse consumers into thinking Crystal Pepsi had no sugar, and marketing the product as if it were medicinal. Pepsi spent an enormous amount of money on the brand and, regardless, we killed it. Both of them were dead within six months.

It’s interesting to think that Coca-Cola created a product purely to sabotage Pepsi rather than attempting to compete with them? Love them or hate them, the battle between these two brands have been happening for decades and will continue to happen.


Stephen Walsh | Packaging Designer
Stephen is a Packaging Designer with Neworld, a branding & packaging design agency with over 30 years experience. We immerse ourselves in your industry, your customers, your competitors and your business goals to create design solutions that will guarantee to boost your bottom line.