Cola War: The battle royale continues

By Zion Rufus 

The cola wars have evolved, with Nigeria as the vibrant stage for these giants clashing for supremacy. The ongoing duel between industry giants Coca-Cola and Pepsi unfolds as a captivating saga, transcending traditional marketing battles. This enduring competition has influenced global consumer behavior and left its imprint on history, shaping political decisions and altering the cola market’s landscape.

In 2015, the Nigerian cola market faced disruption with Big Cola, a product of AJE group, introducing a 65cl PET bottle, surpassing conventional sizes of Coca-Cola and Pepsi. In 2016, Rite Food Limited disrupted the duopoly with Bigi Cola, offering diverse beverage choices to Nigerian consumers.

Extending beyond market share, cola giants Pepsi and Coca-Cola turned what used to be a traditional rivalry into a cultural phenomenon currently permeating Nigeria’s vibrant entertainment industry. Their strategic moves in 2023 for dominance had a transformative effect on the entertainment scene.

Coca Cola’s Musical Odyssey with Coke Studio:

Coca Cola, with its global music platform, Coke Studio, took center stage in the battle for the hearts and ears of Nigerian and African audiences. The platform, renowned for fostering artistic collaboration, delivered yet another captivating season, celebrating human connections and the symphony of diversities.

Coke Studio 2023 featured collaborations with Jon Batiste and 18 breakthrough artists from various countries. The track “Traboski (COKE STUDIO)” emerged as a musical masterpiece, featuring Nigerian sensation BNXN, South Africa’s Young Stunna, and Kenya’s Nikita Kering. The collaboration, coupled with meticulous production, elevated the track to new musical heights.

Coca Cola’s commitment to engaging Gen Z aligns with the brand’s role in shaping contemporary music culture. By focusing on transformative moments, Coke StudioTM continues to captivate audiences, solidifying Coca Cola’s influence in the entertainment domain.

Pepsi’s December to Remember with “Disembaa, No Dulling” Campaign:

Pepsi orchestrated a series of music and lifestyle experiences in December 2023. Under the campaign “Pepsi DND (Disembaa, No Dulling),” the beverage giant positioned itself as the heartbeat of Nigeria’s pop culture, reinforcing its status as the go-to choice for refreshment and immersive entertainment.

The campaign utilized the acronym “DND” and transformed it into a vibrant call to action: “Disembaa, No Dulling.” This encouraged consumers to switch off the dull and immerse themselves in the exhilarating experiences curated by Pepsi throughout December.

Pepsi’s commitment to providing amazing taste while fostering connections with Nigeria’s music stars was evident in the diverse lineup of events. Each experience pulsated with beats, exuded vibes, and generated an irresistible buzz. Pepsi’s people-centric approach and dedication to offering budget-friendly, vibrant experiences created moments of joy for consumers.

The brand’s collaboration with various partners and platforms resulted in initiatives like “Timeless Block Party with Davido,” “Omahlay Unplugged,” and “Entertainment Week Lagos.” Pepsi’s immersive experiences during December 2023 showcased the brand’s commitment to creating moments that transcend the ordinary, reinforcing its role as a key player in shaping Nigeria’s festive season narrative.

Cultural Legacy of the Cola Wars:

The rivalry between Coca-Cola and Pepsi, beginning in the late 19th century, has evolved into a cultural phenomenon. The Super Bowl, a major front for the soda war, witnessed both brands opting for strategic choices. LeBron James, a longtime Coca-Cola endorser, made headlines by potentially moving to PepsiCo, emphasizing the fierce competition.

As the cola wars extend beyond beverage marketing, both Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have committed to environmentally sustainable practices. While PepsiCo aims for 100% renewable energy by 2040, Coca-Cola has set 2030 as its deadline with a focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The cultural legacy of the cola wars owes much to Donald Kendall, PepsiCo’s legendary former boss. Despite his passing, the impact of these wars persists, solidifying Coca-Cola and Pepsi as global marketing icons.

In the fierce battle for market share in Nigeria’s entertainment industry, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo continue to shape the cultural landscape, proving that the cola wars are not just about soda but an enduring clash of titans in the business and cultural realms. The outcome? A thriving entertainment industry and a nation captivated by the magic of Coke Studio and the exhilaration of “Pepsi DND (Disembaa, No Dulling).”


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