Cannes Lions

The Crystal Pepsi Trail

THE BARBARIAN GROUP, New York / PEPSI / 2017

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Overview

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Credits

Overview

Description

To celebrate the nostalgia-fueled return of Crystal Pepsi to shelves, we partnered with the most formative computer game of our millennial target’s youth: The Oregon Trail. “The Crystal Pepsi Trail” is a game inspired by the original that dares fans to prove their 90s devotion on an epic journey to bring back the clear cola. Incorporating key elements from the original game, we built our own game in-house, website true to 90s coding, all pixel art designed to model the original Trail’s style. Throughout The Crystal Pepsi Trail, users were presented with challenges and milestones similar to that of The Oregon Trail - trading the 19th century pioneering hazards of The Oregon Trail’s original educational journey for their 90s road trip equivalents.

Execution

We built The Crystal Pepsi Trail in-house, each pixel hand-placed to model the original Trail’s style. Your trail guide is Marc Summers, beloved 90s game host, and players face challenges modeled after the original game, but with 90s twists – like learning "your Tamagotchi has died of dysentery.” We partnered with a number of brands - including Hasbro, Furbee, JNCO Jeans, Creepy Crawlers, and Bedazzler - to add authentic period detail. The game launched on CrystalPepsi.net, a Geocities-inspired website true to 90s web aesthetics and coding styles. To promote, we created social assets in the style of popular memes about the original game, like “You have died of dysentery.” Users could share these assets to social from within the game as they reached milestones. Additionally, we created two game trailers released on Pepsi’s social channels and key media outlets to tease the game, building anticipation prior to launch.

Outcome

The campaign did very well, driving ~130K mentions for 300MM impressions across social. Average time spent on the site was 8 minutes - a record for any millennial attention span. CrystalPepsi.net drove a total of ~140K site visits, i.e. 1,400 site visits a day throughout the campaign. The game was played an average of 2 times by 117K unique visitors. Fans noticed every detail, praising our 90s-era coding and design on Reddit threads specific to web design. Social mentions drove a 75% positive sentiment, and fan response was that of extreme excitement. User posts shared milestones from the game, indicated the intent of multiple purchases, and requested to make Crystal Pepsi a seasonal drink. The first trailer released on Pepsi’s Facebook page received a 104% engagement rate organically within the first 24 hours, and on YouTube, which drove 9.3K organic views and surpassed Pepsi benchmarks.

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