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Polar bears join the cola wars

People love Pepsi’s “Santa Dancing” ad, which kicked off the “Summer Time is Pepsi Time” campaign by TBWA/Chiat/Day. Now here come the polar bears.

Take a look:

That spot is called “Uncle Teddy,” and like the dancing Santa ad, it’s making fun of Coca Cola’s co-opting of winter symbols.

“It’s summer! Let’s hit the beach!” says a brown bear in a yacht, to a family of snowbound, Coke-drinking polar bears. “You need a Pepsi!”

This ad has neither the comic timing nor the craft of the Santa Dancing ad. But judging by the number of YouTube plays, the polar bear spot is far more popular. It has over 1.5 million plays, vs. 250,000 for Santa.

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Maybe I’m hyper sensitive, but is there a subliminal message in this ad about race? Is “Uncle Teddy” a hip, black dude bringing the party to uptight white folks? Yes, yes, I realize the story is that he’s a white polar bear with a tan. But listen to his voice. I wouldn’t call it racist or offensive, just tacky.

* * * *

Do you remember the first Coca Cola polar bear commercial? It was a spot called “Northern Lights” by Creative Artists Agency, and first aired in 1993. Here it is:

It’s amazing how far CGI has come. Pepsi’s 2011 polar bear ad looked like cheap animation when I first saw it, but it’s actually miles ahead of the bears in 1993.

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Also of note: Pepsi is buying competitive keywords to promote this commercial. When you search YouTube for “Coca Cola,” a sponsored link to the Pepsi Polar Bear spot appears.

Update: Coke, or one of their fans, is playing this game too. The URL www.summertimeispepsitime.com redirects to www.coca-cola.com. Update 2: Okay, maybe not. It doesn’t redirect there any more.

* * * *

What’s the song is in this commercial?

Once again, Montell Jordan’s “This Is How We Do It.”

Who created this ad?

Agency: TBWA/Chiat/Day

Who signed off on it?

Massimo d’Amore, PepsiCo global beverage chief

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Related post, Oct. 31, 2011: See Coca-Cola’s 2011 white polar bear holiday can

— By Daryl Lang. Filed under Advertising, Television


  1. Jason says:

    i smell a lawsuit for copyright infringement
    from cokes site
    “Trademark Information
    Produced for The Coca-Cola Company, owner of the trademarks “Coca-Cola,” “Coke,” “diet Coke,” “cherry Coke,” “Dasani,” “Hi-C,” “Fanta,” “Five Alive,” “Barq’s,” “Fresca,” “Mello Yello,” “Minute Maid,” “Sprite,” “diet Sprite,” “Surge,” “Nestea,” “TaB,” “TaB Energy,” “POWERade,” “Dannon,” “Evian,” “Full Throttle,” “Rockstar,” “Gold Peak,” the Dynamic Ribbon device, the design of the contour bottle, the design of the contour glass*, the Red Disc Icon, “Always COCA-COLA”, the design of the COCA-COLA Santa, the design of the COCA-COLA Polar Bear and the design of the COCA-COLA Seal, and for Coca-Cola Ltd., owner of the trademarks in Canada.”

  2. john says:

    Why do these bears look anorexic? Polar bears are not suppose to be that skinny. It sends the wrong message. Pepsi Fail!

  3. juan says:

    cheap shot from pepsi….

    • Paula says:

      I think it sends the wrong message too…It seems it is all about peer pressure..Do they really want that message sent???

  4. Nina says:

    Rock on Pepsi. . . This was just good marketing!!! I am not really a soda drinker, but I have wondered why Pepsi’s Marketing Department has not rocked out hard lately to promote this Brand as Coke has done for years. This was no different from other American companies that compete (i.e. McDonald’s and Burger King). Keep up the good work Pepsi. . . Don’t get mad, just get back to work Coke!

    • Serene says:

      Pepsi has always been trying to imitate Coke. They have always been #2 and they look stupid trying to copy instead of having their own campaign.

  5. Maria says:

    Even Santa and the Polar Bears Know Pepsi is #1

  6. Susan Bondzinski says:

    I collect polar bears, I don’t care if coke or pepsi has them as long as they make more tv ads and stuffed ones. I have alot. Right now I’m waiting for my husband to build me a room to put them all in. I even have my christman tree decorated with them.

  7. sundans64 says:

    I thought the bear’s voice was Steven Tyler’s

  8. coke fan says:

    I wonder if this is preempting a polar bear coke commercial or something. the animation is pretty shoddy in terms of what is possible today. Feels like it was done in a hurry to get it out before coke’s holiday season.

    no one will remember this come coke’s turn in the sun… or in the snow so to speak.

  9. Joe in N Calif says:

    You are being hypersensitive. Look hard enough and you can find anything anywhere. You could argue that the Coke ads are racist because there are no bears-of-color in them.

  10. ryan says:

    This is ridiculous. For the nasty, syrup-ie drink that pepsi is, how can they hope to compete with coke by stealing their idea. Coke rules now and forever. And they will always belong to the Bears!!!

  11. mattzweck says:

    i hope coca-cola puts a lawsuit against Pepsi for using there idea. i really don’t like Pepsi that much to syrupy for me.and if i have too i’ll boycott ever pepsi product made.

  12. ray says:

    The voice of Uncle Teddy sounds like Captain Beefheart!

  13. rhonda says:

    horrific ad. polar bears are dying because it is too warm where they live. and pepsi makes fun of it? im never drinking pepsi again EVER.

  14. rhonda says:

    pepsi is and always will be too syrupy FLAT COKE

  15. Chris says:

    I cannot understand the ignorance and insensitivity to the plight of the Polar Bears Decreasing sea ice, poachers, oil harvesting, and other factors detrimental to their habitat push them closer to extinction.

  16. Swooze84 says:

    I swear the tan polar bear sounds like Steven Tyler.

  17. Beast of the Big East says:

    It seems that you have answered my one real issue with “Uncle Teddy”-the F as to whether or not we’re supposed to wonder, “Riley?”

    I’m no CGI mestre, a project for uni back in ’92 being a letdown, but I was of the mind that Pepsi’s swipe at the polar bears looked unsettlingly chintzy. You pointed out (were you “AdMan” between ’88 and ’92?) that this beat the aesthetic pants off of the source material as it stood nearly two decades prior.

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