Rum and Pepsi: Time to discover the beverage pairing hidden in plain site

Rum and Pepsi continues the Better with Pepsi campaign, photo provided by Pepsi
Rum and Pepsi continues the Better with Pepsi campaign, photo provided by Pepsi /

Over the past several years, the Better with Pepsi campaign has showcased how the sweet, citrus forward cola pairs perfectly with almost any food. With the newest announcement, the iconic beverage brand wants to take over the bar. That Cuba Libre is getting a flavor upgrade. Ready for rum and Pepsi?

Sometimes a refreshing cocktail hits the spot. From the vacation libation to a festive night with friends, cocktail hour has some people raising a glass to good time and great memories. While patrons might be at the mercy of the bartender’s option, sometimes it pays to request a specific beverage. For example, no one is just going to ask for a beer. There is a big difference between a light lager and a hoppy IPA.

Ahead of National Rum Month, it is time to open a new chapter in the Better with Pepsi story. The idea that rum and Pepsi are flavorful partners is waiting to be enjoyed. As seen across the new beverage campaign, Pepsi wants people to be thoughtful when picking that cola beverage to pair with rum.

Rum and Pepsi cocktail combination
Popular rum brand and Pepsi make for a flavorful cocktail pairing, photo provided by Pepsi /

Given that visual may unwittingly influence a decision, the campaign showcases how that beverage pairing has been staring at everyone all along. Like a great outfit, the complementary colors in the brands’ logos prove that this is a match meant to be.

The combination of warm, spicy rum flavors with the sweet, citrus forward Pepsi is a multidimensional flavor enjoyment. Whether served simply over ice or boosted with a sprig of mint, the reality is that rum and cola is better when that cola is Pepsi.

What does Todd Kaplan, Chief Marketing Officer – Pepsi, say about rum and Pepsi?

Recently, Foodsided was able to discuss the new rum and Pepsi campaign with Todd Kaplan, Chief Marketing Officer – Pepsi. While the corporate executive understands the nuance of compelling visual campaigns, this particular offering expands the audience for the iconic beverage. Many people happily grab that can when enjoying a pizza or plate of chicken wings. By putting it front and center behind the bar, it shows the beverage’s flavor versatility.

Given Pepsi’s unique flavor profile, it can pair well with any rum style. As Kaplan said, “No matter where you enjoy your rum, whether it’s on the beach, in a bar or sitting at a restaurant, rum is Better With Pepsi. The best part is that it doesn’t matter which rum you choose to pair your Pepsi with – the crisp, sweet fizz from a Pepsi brings the perfect balance to the warm spice notes of rum.”

While the flavor will bring drinkers back time and again, people need to place that first order. Even though it might have been right within reach, the reality is that the visual can spark that order.

Pepsi and rum campaign imagery
Pepsi and rum campaign imagery, photo provided by Pepsi /

When asked about the recognition factor and its influence on the Better with Pepsi campaign, Kaplan said, “Visual recognition is extremely important. Similar to what we’ve done with our other Better With Pepsi activations such as burgers, pizza and hot dogs, we’re laser focused on what we call situational salience – ensuring consumers associate their food occasions with Pepsi. We’ve been encouraged by that success, and it is why we continue to invest in the Better With Pepsi platform, because we can see the value this positioning provides. Now, with this activation, we’re taking a cultural truth head on – that while the rum and cola cocktail has been immensely popular for over 100 years, consumers have defaulted to ordering it with the other cola, which we know doesn’t hold up to the optimal pairing of rum and Pepsi. So this campaign will roll out nationally, of course, but with added focus in key markets to drive situational salience with rum consumption, including a full suite of out of home media throughout Atlanta, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York City and more.”

Although personal preferences are always paramount, a great cocktail, like enjoying rum and Pepsi, is often paired with a delicious meal. When asked about his preferred food and beverage choice, Kaplan shared, “You’re absolutely right. Bottom line, a rum and Pepsi pairing would complement any dish. But if I had to choose, I would love to kick back at the beach bar with a rum and Pepsi alongside a perfect beachside burger…because we already know burgers are better with Pepsi too!”

When that thirst for a rum and cola hits, be specific with that mixer choice. Rum and Pepsi is the flavor that deserves to be sipped. But, one question remains. Could Pepsi and whiskey be the next beverage swap?

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