Pepsi’s jumped on a retro tip with its latest campaign, celebrating the 50th anniversary of Grease featuring US rapper and songwriter Doja Cat for a “modern take on a classic”. The only problem being that a lot of younger customers seem to be unsure what that classic was.
The drink maker’s brought in Doja Cat to cover John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John’s You’re the One that I Want for the launch of two limited edition vintage soda shop flavours with retro cans. But while there’s been a lot of nostalgia in the air this year, we’re not sure this effort hits the right notes. Fans are divided, and some are confused about where the song came from (see our roundup of the best print ads to see advertising at its best).
Directed by Hannah Lux Davis, the ad shows Doja Cat strutting through Rydell High, the setting of the original 1978 film, flanked by Pink Ladies and T-Birds. She then storms a soda shop similar to the film’s Frosty Palace restaurant. In her case, however, the “one” that she wants isn’t the guy as suggested in the original song. Of course it isn’t; what she wants is a limited edition can of cream soda-flavour Pepsi.
It’s pretty clear that Pepsi’s noticed the current wave of nostalgia that’s given us Cobra Kai, Sonic Lego, a Tamagotchi smartwatch and Oreo cassette players. It’s aimed to bridge old and new pop culture, but a lot of the references get lost. “What’s this song?” and, “I didn’t hear this on her album” being typical comments on the YouTube video.
And while the cover certainly is a modern twist on a classic, the whole thing feels a little scrappy and unfinished, causing some to suggest that it is Pepsi who’d “better shape up”. On Twitter, one person offered: “I’m so disappointed in this commercial, 90% of people under 30 don’t even know who the original performer of this song is. Ruined a classic.”
“This commercial doesn’t feel ‘done’ to me. It feels like this is the ALMOST completed version,” one person said on the YoutTube video. Some went further (a little too far?!) “This is disgusting. I absolutely hate this. I’ll happily watch the stage play, or the 1979 movie over this. I’m sick to my stomach.”
Even Doja fans are divided. While some have their hearts set on a full release of the cover and are even calling for a remake of the movie, others are dismayed. “Love Doja, hate this remake. Sounds basic and budget,” one fan commented. “I’m cringing so hard, why did Doja do this to us?” someone else demanded.
As for the cans themselves, the design is perhaps a little predictable. Pepsi’s pared back the prevalence of blue in its current branding in favour of a more retro palette and a script font heavily influenced by the logotype it used in the 1950s when it went under the name Pepsi-Cola rather than just Pepsi.
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