PepsiCo’s newest soda places a bet on two popular trends. Social media and cinnamon.
Starting May 22, the beverage and snacking giant will start to roll out a new, limited-edition beverage called Pepsi Fire that will be sold across the U.S. during an eight-week run. Pepsi Fire is billed as a cola with cinnamon flavor. PepsiCo (PEP) is also leaning on Snap’s (SNAP) popular Snapchat filter, as some Pepsi-branded packaging will feature a code that will unlock some features that are unique to Snapchat, including filters and a new Pepsi mobile game.
To boost attention on Pepsi Fire, PepsiCo says it will finance a mix of digital and TV advertising, with a national ad spot planned for June. The beverage company is also extending the pop culture reach of the ad campaign by developing content with late night host Conan O’Brien.
Pepsi Fire is being sold in 20 ounce bottles and 12-ounce canned 12 packs.
The campaign focusing on the namesake Pepsi cola (albeit with a flavored twist) comes at a time when soda sales have suffered from a prolonged, 12-year sales slump as consumer tilt to favor more bottled water, flavored waters, and other beverages they deem healthier. The declines have hit all the major players in the space—PepsiCo, Coca-Cola (KO) and Dr Pepper Snapple (DPS)—though the Pepsi namesake remains the second-most popular carbonated soft drink in the U.S. (only trailing Coke).
To stay competitive, PepsiCo has remained innovative. It brought back Crystal Pepsi last year and also tinkered with the company’s Diet Pepsi strategy to try to appease those that either love or loathe the sweetener aspartame. Pepsi Fire, meanwhile, is a nod toward the broader beverage industry’s embrace of the cinnamon flavor.
Call it the “Fireball effect”—the popularity of that cinnamon-based liqueur has inspired many others in the beverage aisle. Most notably, Beam Suntory’s Jim Beam and Brown-Forman’s (BF-B) Jack Daniel’s each have a cinnamon-based offering. Pepsi’s soda, of course, is a non-alcoholic beverage but plays into that flavor trend.
The Snapchat connection, meanwhile, points to how PepsiCo aims to be innovative and disruptive when it comes to packaging. Another example of that sort of thinking: when the Frito-Lay division earlier this year debuted a Tostitos bag that had a built-in sensor that would tell a consumer how much they had been drinking.