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Pepsi – Vanilla and Wild Cherry (2020)

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In two new ads, Pepsi shows us people drinking the new Wild Cherry and Vanilla flavours and dancing like nobody’s watching — before revealing that people are, in fact, watching.


There’s not much to this — it’s one visual gag, executed pretty well. For the record, we much prefer the match cut reveal in the Vanilla version.

Ok, so it’s not getting a laugh, but we’re giving Pepsi a gold star for choosing to incorporate a joke when they probably could’ve got away with thirty seconds of no-context dancing.

We talk about escalation a lot on this blog, because most ads don’t do it enough. But another key comedy principle is ‘contrast’. By revealing that the characters are actually in very dull, everyday surroundings with muted colours, the contrast with the glitzy and empowering world of Pepsi is heightened. This makes the reveal more surprising, and the take home message (Pepsi Vanilla makes your life more exciting) hits harder.

This wouldn’t work if the characters were actually dancing in a nightclub, or a fancy apartment — it’s got to be a bleak office, and a pharmacy. In fact, you could say the difference between the two situations has been…well, it’s been escalated, hasn’t it?

In short, these ads aren’t going to make you laugh, but they might make you thirsty for a Pepsi (or a boogie). Check out the Wild Cherry version here.

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