Single P or Double P?
On billboards in Buenos Aires, Argentina, next to the familiar red, white and blue Pepsi logo, there is an eye-catching spelling mistake: “Pecsi”.
The spelling change is accompanied by slogans promoting “freedom of pronunciation” (“el libre albedrio pronunciativo”) and “the beautiful democracy of pronunciation” (“la hermosa democracia pronunciatoria”).
A TV commercial features people saying the name in different ways. Pecsipedia, a free content wiki, lists over 1300 English words that are pronounced incorrectly in Argentina.
Given Spanish phonetics, “Pecsi” is easier to pronounce than “Pepsi”. More than 25% of Argentinians already said “Pecsi” when asking for a Pepsi, and many had been using this pronunciation for decades. Instead of attempting to correct the mistake, Pepsi decided to go hyperlocal and celebrate different ways of saying its brand name.
Behind the news:
While the rest of the world was left gasping, wondering what on earth Pepsi was thinking to change their iconic name, the brand seems to have got on the right side of Argentinians – and generated unprecedented buzz.
For decades, brands – often originating in the US – have spent billions enforcing message consistency across the globe, leaving little or no room for humour.
“Pecsi” deliberately challenges the premise of global standardization, and at the same time shows what many ex-pats know out of firsthand experience: that poking fun at oneself can be an effective tactic to change local perceptions and gain sympathy across borders.