What do Arrested Development, Surge soda, and now apparently Crystal Pepsi have in common? Well, all three have cultivated passionate fans who have used social media to bring the properties back from the dead.
PepsiCo's (NASDAQ:PEP) Crystal Pepsi is apparently the latest discontinued cult fave to show signs of life. Earlier this week Pepsi notified L.A. Beast -- an extreme eater with more than 1.2 million subscribers to his YouTube channel -- to suggest the short-lived clear Pepsi soda could be on the market again.
"We think you'll be happy with what's in store," the letter concludes after thanking him and his growing legion of followers for their support.
I would like to think that I played a tiny part in the revolution. I wrote a Daily Finance article nine months ago proposing that Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) bringing Surge back in small batches opened the door for the world's second-largest pop star to follow suit with Crystal Pepsi. The article is credited in Wikipedia as kicking off the revival speculation last fall.
However, L.A. Beast took things to a much higher level two months ago when he enlisted his followers to raise money that was used to erect 15 billboards around Los Angeles. The #BringBackCrystalPepsi hashtag was born, and PepsiCo has now caved in to the campaign.
Coca-Cola brought back the highly caffeinated citrus-flavored Surge last year after a 13-year hiatus. Between social media's power to take a message viral and new distribution outlets that don't involve haggling with retailers for shelf space, the climate has never been kinder to bring back cult faves. With online storefronts and the growing popularity of customized Coca-Cola Freestyle and Pepsi Spire dispensers, it's easy to raise the syrupy dead.
"Surge is here, but it may not be long before Crystal Pepsi and other discontinued cult beverages come back to life," I wrote last year.
PepsiCo can use the boost. Consumption of sugary soft drinks has been falling for years, and the decline has intensified lately for diet carbonated beverages. Coca-Cola and PepsiCo are well diversified in nonsoda beverage lines, but bringing back retired soft drinks is a no-brainer opportunity to create incremental sales and possibly reverse the negative overall trend.
Crystal Pepsi didn't last on the market for long. The clear and caffeine-free carbonated beverage was only available from 1992 through 1993. However, for those of us who miss the fizzy concoction -- and for younger consumers who never had a chance to try it out -- it seems as if the second time may be the charm.