Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Coke may have invented Santa Claus but Pepsi had the big red guy I really wanted to see at Christmas

Pepsi 12/15/85

This is a cool ad because it's the only American promotional material I've found for Pepsi's 1985 "Win a Transformer" contest giveaway. In the US the rules were simple-you bought a Pepsi with Optimus Prime graphics on it (you 'can' see a picture of one of these special cans at the bottom of this page) and if the tab had the word "WIN" on it you would go to your nearest Pepsi bottler and pick up a special Pepsi edition Optimus Prime. (You can see this ad in the Reading, PA newspaper it came from thanks to Google's newspaper archive.)


No discussion of Pepsi Prime would be complete without mention of the Canadian contest where the prize was an Optimus with a much larger trailer sticker that ran the length of the cab (you can see it on this page seven Optimus Primi down). In Canada the promotion was called "Transformers Trackdown" and it included a game where players collected bottle caps to complete a picture of Optimus Prime. A small graphic with one side of Optimus was printed underneath the bottle caps and players had to acquire both the left and right halves of Optimus to win. To the right is a picture of the more common bottle cap courtesy of my friend Colin who runs Note the French/English bilingual text. The smaller text states the offer expires 2-28-86. (Optimus himself expired six months later.)


I never won a Pepsi Prime when I was a kid but I don't remember trying. So Pepsi never got a chance back then to twist and pervert my love of Optimus into an addiction to their kidney caramelizer. I had to wait almost twenty years later to let them do that. I'm glad I got another shot. Hopefully Pepsi will keep alive their tradition of occasionally bringing me free Optimus Primes because ever since I turned 13 Santa Claus has been doing a really crappy job.

Pence Foods 01/14/86
Mr. Ed's 08/24/86


I found a couple of ads recently from food related establishments back in '86 who were giving away "Autobot Commander" Transformers. Although the stores differed, what they had in common was usually the robots were part of some random giveaway and multiples of these figures were raffled off along with some bicycles.

One ad was from a grocery store called Pence Foods doing a raffle where the second and third prizes were "Autobot Commander Transformers" and another one, from Mr. Ed's hamburger restaurant in Cumberland, Maryland, was part of a grand opening celebration. Mr. Ed's is the only ad I've found stating the prizes were furnished by Pepsi. I'm thinking that in addition to the "look under the cap and win a Transformer" contest they did, they also gave away cases of Optimus Primes to various vendors to give away as promotional items.

So there were probably lots of ways to score a Pepsi Prime beyond just the contest on the cans, which was the only official way I knew of. I say official because I had a friend whose dad worked for Pepsi and scored him one, in which case the only contest my friend had to win was the sperm lottery.


Weasel said...

Whoa, I don't think I've ever seen this ad before. Hell, I didn't know about Pepsi Prime until the freaking 1990s, honestly.

Yeah, I was a little bit behind.

Evil King Macrocranios said...

I don't remember being aware of it as a kid, either. I don't know if it was nationwide or a regional thing. I know it was done where I grew up in El Paso, TX because one of the stockers I used to work with at my first Target job had one when I went over to his house once. That would make my first exposure to the thing around '94 or '95 since that's when I worked there. But I didn't know what it was. The funny thing is my friend just had it in his room next to some other model semi trucks. He wasn't much of a Transformer fan-he just liked trucks and his dad worked at Pepsi.

It wasn't until I read more about it in the Tomart's Price Guide to Action Figure Collectibles volume 3 that I found out what exactly Pepsi Prime was. That book came out in 1996 or so. Then the first one I ever saw boxed in person was in a comic book shop in Copperas Cove, Tx in '97 or '98.

I know how you feel when it comes to being on the tail end of the knowledge bandwagon. I'm constantly the last person to find out about G1 stuff, too.

Weasel said...

Well, I've at least got Prime to go to if I get a question in my head that requires an answer. He knew about this version back then--there was a radio station (hollering upstairs to ask) he thinks it was WFON in Fond du Lac, WI, giving it away to call-ins during a Halloween broadcast. He was in the car with the rest of his family, listening to it. Wouldn't have mattered if they had been home to call; his dad never would have allowed it anyway. Besides THAT wonderful little part of his memory, it's always stuck in his mind because the female show host kept referring to it as a 'Pepsi Omnimus Prime Transformer', which kind of irritated him, he says, as it naturally would any kid who knows an adult is screwing up but is told to hush by a parent anyway.

I know the feeling all too well. :-) And he still wants one, too.

Hooper_X said...

Oh cool. I honestly had no idea how the Pepsi Prime contest actually worked. TO THE WIKI!

(google verification: MIS MST - yes, yes I do.)

Evil King Macrocranios said...

Well thanks for being interested. I added some stuff about the Canadian contest since it looks like people are checking this out from the wiki talk page.

colin said...

I disappear for a number of weeks - to work, to Asia and to holiday parties - and discover you are back!

I'll see if I have any other references to the Canadian contest kicking around. My mom's best friend's husband worked for Pepsi bottling in Canada in the 1980s. My mom's friend claimed he had 3-4 pepsi primes stored in his attic at the time, just for when they became valuable. I've never followed up. Something I have to do.

Glad you're back!

Evil King Macrocranios said...

It's not much of a comeback-I only do maybe 3 posts a month as opposed to at least that many every week like I used to do back in the good ol' days. I still feel overwhelmed by the ideas but I don't feel as much of an urgent responsibility to do them anymore. There's no more rush to write about some obscure grocery store ad I found for some transforming dinosaur jeep that the world forgot about 25 years ago. I kind of realized 1985 isn't going anywhere.


Minibox 3 Column Blogger Template by James William at 2600 Degrees

Evil King Macrocranios was voted king by the evil peoples of the Kingdom of Macrocrania. They listen to Iron Maiden all day and try to take pictures of ghosts with their webcams.