Pepsi calls out Coca-Cola on Twitter, reignites ‘cola wars’ for a new age

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Pepsi is challenging Coca-Cola’s fans to “break up” with a specific Coke product. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

(NEXSTAR) – As if there weren’t enough conflict in the world, a brand-new “cola wars” is bubbling up.

Earlier this week on Twitter, Pepsi reworked the popular “jealous girlfriend” meme to suggest that Pepsi Zero Sugar might suddenly be more attractive to fans of Coke Zero Sugar, especially after the latter reformulated its recipe this summer.

“While you keep changing New Coke Zero, we’ll always be in good ‘taste,’” Pepsi wrote.  

In a follow-up post, Pepsi also challenged Coca-Cola’s fans to “break up” with Coke Zero Sugar, and even offered to reimburse the cost of a 20-ounce Pepsi Zero Sugar for curious consumers willing to try Pepsi’s sugar-free soda.

“Determined to help mend some broken hearts, Pepsi is welcoming former Coke Zero Sugar drinkers with open arms,” Pepsi added, in part, in the promotion’s press release.

Pepsi’s tweets, and its new promotion, are now being credited with bringing to so-called “cola wars” to the world of sugar-free sodas, outlets such as AdWeek and Ad Age are reporting.

Pepsi, however, is going up against a goliath in the zero-sugar category. As noted by Adweek, Coca-Cola Zero Sugar controlled 7.9% of the carbonated drink market in 2020, compared to Pepsi Zero Sugar’s 0.4%. Still, Coca-Cola insisted it was necessary to reformulate its existing Coke Zero Sugar recipe to continue to “drive growth” of its diet and light soft drinks.

“The consumer landscape is always changing, which means we must evolve to stay ahead,” said Natalia Suarez, the senior brand manager of Coca-Cola’s North America operating unit, in a July 2021 press release touting Coke Zero Sugar’s new recipe.

Many of Pepsi’s Twitter followers, perhaps unsurprisingly, were quick to join Pepsi and pounce on Coke in the wake of this week’s meme. Others, meanwhile, just seemed excited for the battles to come.

“This tweet wins the Internet,” one user wrote. “Let the cola wars continue.”

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