A Corporate Magazine and the Fate of Its Designer

Internal communications or propaganda, call it what you want, Pepsi-Cola World produced a notable publication. The monthly magazine was distributed to Pepsi-Cola bottling plants starting in the late 1950’s. It changed the way corporations communicated with employees to get them involved, invested and remain loyal. Yet, not all was what it seemed.

Pepsi was very style conscious given their shoestring budget compared to the big competitor. Much of this was attributed to Alfred Nu Steele, who took over the company at challenging times. Between 1950 and his death in 1959, Pepsi’s profits tripled. Nu Steele was flamboyant and loved weighing in on promotional and marketing activity. He respected the value of well-balanced art and copy.

Pepsi-Cola World was designed by Brownjohn, Chermayeff, and Geismar. Cover designs were largely the brainchild of Robert Brownjohn, who carried a witty style across all clients. The contract gave the design firm solid financial footing and earned them numerous awards. Other work followed, as did the magazine, but that would go on without Brownjohn.

Read more

McDonald’s and Burger King: Brand War or Duopoly?

I grew up with perhaps the most intense brand war of all-time. This was epitomized in the famous taste-tests between Coke and Pepsi. Both colas were nearly 100 years old when the Pepsi Challenge was launched in 1975. Most consumers favoured the flavour of Pepsi. This war has raged since and has not only been fought on product differentiation but through endorsement marketing, global advertising, and sports and entertainment sponsorship. 

Another war was fought between adidas and PUMA. I call adidas the winner in this brawl. It was very much a Cain and Abel story, given the two brands resulted from the split between siblings in the Dassler Brothers Sports Shoe Company. Now global brands, when the defining battles took place, this sneaker war was primarily in the European theater. The fight continued until the brother’s passing’s, “even in death the two brothers couldn’t stand each other as they were buried at opposite ends of the cemetery from one another.”[1]

Do you remember the Console Wars? Nintendo, who once controlled almost 90% of the gaming industry, doth did battle with Sega. This was to be a case of Mortal Kombat (all pun intended). The treasure at the end of this big game was a US$60 billion-dollar industry. Each company pumped out new hardware and accessories that supported ever more complex games. Analysts conclude Nintendo won due to Sega’s techy missteps. Market share and revenue certainly bears this out.

Apple has been a battler. It took on Samsung over cellphones. Legal battles on patents and infringements raged. Billions were spent on legal fees and settlements were similarly large. That is no surprise given the market at stake. And, let’s not forget, the famous Apple versus Microsoft computer fisticuffs that was dramatized in a series of ads. Metaphorically, two actors showed the differences between the two brands, one was staid and nerdy and the other relaxed and hip.

Read more

Portfolio Items