What El Paso Politics, Coca-Cola, and Pepsi Have Taught Us About Marketing

Politics Word Centered

All politics is local.”
Tip O’Neill, Former U.S. Speaker of the House

O’Neill is probably most famous today for that quote. He coined this phrase to try and encapsulate the principle that a politician’s success is directly tied to his ability to understand and influence the local issues of his constituents.

Politics in El Paso, Texas

El Paso is the largest metro area on the U.S./Mexico border with a total regional population that exceeds 2.2 million, according to the city of El Paso. This past May, El Pasoans had five city elections to vote in, and among them was the mayoral election.

Former State Representative and mayoral candidate Dee Margo was proven to be the favorite by earning 45% of the votes. El Paso businessman David Saucedo had more than half of Margo’s votes, with 24%. An interesting fact about these results: Margo outspent Saucedo 2 to 1 on marketing.

Still, since no candidate received more than 50% of the vote, Margo will face Saucedo in a runoff mayoral election on June 10. The people spoke, but not convincingly — less than 10% of the city’s 418,665 registered voters cast their ballots in the city election.

Are we experiencing “political burnout”?

When asked what he thought about the low voter turnout, Dee Margo said for an interview with KVIA, “I don’t know, I mean, May elections are tough. People just finished the big [presidential] election of 2016 and there may be some sort of burnout.”

America is politically obsessed. Every day there are reports and news that lead to a cycle of finger-pointing, name-calling, and outrage. Could this be the reason for the low voter turnout? Are we getting tired of politics?
It’s not my intention to make less of the importance of the political issues involved in this article by focusing attention on the marketing aspects of the subject, but, after all, the marketing of political campaigns usually determines whose vision, of the city of El Paso in this case, will be chosen.

This battle is about the marketing of politics; it’s about us. We the People will not only determine the outcome, We the People must live with the results. El Pasoans, make sure you go out this June 10 and vote in the runoff elections. You can find more info here.

Successful politics is about smart marketing and advertising…

Yet most political consultants seem to think that the best way to win is by attacking the opponent. We can all agree that any election could do without the the conflicts, negativity, personal attacks, etc. El Paso Inc. reported that the mayoral election in El Paso has already turned negative when Saucedo attacked Margo for his refusal to attend further public forums.

The advertising industry knows better. Very few businesses attack their competitors because it just doesn’t work.

Can you imagine if Pepsi and Coca-Cola went head to head directly?

Two ultimately similar drinks whose long rivalry has divided restaurants, fast food chains, and more: The battle between Coke and Pepsi has been waged in stadiums, on billboards, and in courtrooms. This rivalry has even been called “the most important struggle in the history of capitalism” by Fortune magazine.

In 1886, an Atlanta chemist introduced Coca-Cola, and Pepsi followed seven years later. There was a rivalry from the beginning, but it intensified decades later. It all started when Pepsi took Alfred Steele, former Coke adman, and made him their CEO. Steele arrived ambitious, and put Coca-Cola in his sights. Under his management, Pepsi sales tripled between 1955 and 1957. He reduced the sugar content of Pepsi products and introduced them to third-world countries.

Coca-Cola referred to its competitor as “the Imitator,” and “the Enemy,” and it began tinkering with its business (and imitating Pepsi) to stay ahead. In 1979, Pepsi actually overtook Coke’s sales in supermarket, and though that lead did not last, the rivalry did.

Powerful rivalries can be blinding, obscuring events beyond the combatants’ “battlefield.” Coke and Pepsi were so busy trying to one-up one another for decades that an entirely new market slipped away right from under them, and today, the best-selling energy drink in the U.S. isn’t made by either company. (It’s Red Bull.)

Don’t lose your vision

When you’re marketing your business, brand name, company, or even yourself, be for something rather than against something. Make sure the “conversation” is revolving around you for all the right reasons.

One thing is true: great advertising starts with a strong message that appeals to the needs of more consumers than your competitor’s message does. Great marketing starts by appealing to the right audience and expanding your market, little by little.

Your marketing efforts should get you closer to at least three of these objectives:

  1. Raise awareness.
  2. Enhance your image
  3. Attract customers to your business
  4. Convince potential clients to take the next step in the purchasing process

Anybody can outspend the competition, but it’s not as easy to outsmart it. 8 Signal will help identify the best marketing strategy for you. Call us at (915) 585-1919 or fill out our contact form to schedule a free 2-hour session with our marketing experts. Let’s get your brand moving in the right direction.

The photos in this article are courtesy of local El Paso photographers. Check out their work below:
Downtown El Paso, Texas by Paul Garland
Home in the Sky by garlandcannon
Pano of Southwest University Park by Allen Sheffield
El Paso Superstar by Adrian Valenzuela