Crystal Pepsi was a caffeine-free soft drink made by PepsiCo from 1992 to 1993 in the United States, Canada, and for a short time in Australia. Crystal Pepsi was sold for a longer time in Europe.
In the early 1990s, a marketing fad equating clarity with purity began with the remake of Ivory soap from its classic milky solution; the idea spread to many companies, including PepsiCo. Its marketing slogan was ‘You’ve never seen a taste like this.’ A large marketing campaign was launched, for which the company invented the world’s first photo-realistic, computer-generated bus wrap printing. A series of television advertisements featuring Van Halen’s hit song ‘Right Now’ during Super Bowl XXVII.
In its first year, Crystal Pepsi captured a full percentage point of U.S. soft drink sales. Coca-Cola followed suit by launching Tab Clear in late 1992. Initial sales were good but quickly fell. Pepsi pulled the drink off the market and returned several months later with a reformulated citrus drink titled ‘Crystal From Pepsi,’ but this was short-lived as well.
Yum! Brands Chairman David C. Novak is credited with introducing the Crystal Pepsi concept. In a 2007 interview, he stated: ‘It was a tremendous learning experience. I still think it’s the best idea I ever had, and the worst executed. A lot of times as a leader you think, ‘They don’t get it; they don’t see my vision.’ People were saying we should stop and address some issues along the way, and they were right. It would have been nice if I’d made sure the product tasted good. Once you have a great idea and you blow it, you don’t get a chance to resurrect it.’