Friday, December 16, 2005

Merry Pepsi Christmas!

Saturday Evening Post Dec 1955, originally uploaded by leifpeng.

Throughout the 1950's Pepsi ran stylish ads, often featuring sophisticated, fashionable women, but just as often showing boy/girl scenarios similar to those typically accompanying the romantic fiction articles in the same magazines. The similarity doesn't just end with the staging of these scenes, Pepsi often employed the talents of the same artists magazines like Ladies Home Journal and Saturday Evening Post most favoured for romance - Joe Bowler, Len Steckler, Lynn Buckham, and the like.

By contrast, Coke's ads often seemed clunky and stodgy - homey scenes by Amos Sewell and others. While Coke appears to have been trying to position itself as the drink of small-town middle America, Pepsi was telling its audience that young, urban, fashionable sophisticates drank their product. This strategy culminated in their "The Sociables Prefer Pepsi" campaign later in the fifties.

I wondered if, because Pepsi's ads were often done by Cooper Studio regulars, that the Cooper Studio had the contract to produce all these ads and if so, who at Cooper might have painted this particular piece. Chicago illustrator and Cooper Studio historian Neil Shapiro graciously offered his insight: "there's no way to know for sure, but my strong hunch is that the artist is Bob Levering. Bob did a lot of these Pepsi ads -- he had the 'Cooper Look' down pat."

For those who are interested in learning more about the famous New York Cooper Studios, Neil hints that some of his material will be appearing in an upcoming issue of Illustration magazine, so keep your eyes peeled for that!

If you'd like to see a few more Pepsi ads in this style, I've uploaded a few from past weeks of Today's Inspiration here.


  1. Hello,

    Your blog's really interesting. I'll keep it in my links so that I won't lose track of it. Great reference works. Thanks a lot.

  2. your service to the art community is commendable Leif! CHEERS!

  3. Your blog is always an education, Leif, even for those of us who are almost old enough to qualify as members of the "Pepsi Generation." Regarding the difference between the art of Coke and the art of Pepsi, when Coke decided that Pepsi had the smarter strategy, Coke didn't waste any time jumping on the bandwagon. It first turned to Bob Peak to add some sizzle and then, halfway through the advertising campaign, dropped Peak for somebody even newer, the young Bernie Fuchs. Some observers felt that Peak's ego never fully recovered from being displaced and that years later he still felt competitive with Fuchs.

  4. These are great postings!! V inspiring

  5. chhuy-ing, shoontz, newsquirt, david, and alina, thanks for all your kind words and encouragement!

    David, I'd love to see those Coke ads by Peak and Fuchs! haven't come across any as yet - though I do have some 7-up ads by Peak from the late sixties.

    One artist who I think was at the front end of the Coke revamp in the early sixties was Jack Potter - I do have a couple of examples of his work for Coke which I will post shortly.

  6. Merry Christmas, You and Pepsi also.:) i really like the way you expressed!
    travel tips for women