Like many of you, my journey into “beverage enthusiasm” began by first being a fan of pop can design. Nowadays the 20 oz plastic bottle is the most popular unit for carbonated soft drink sales, but I was lured by the attractive, special edition designs often found on 12 oz cans in the 1980s-90s.
Often remembered are the many iterations of the “Pepsi Cool Cans” that first appeared in 1990. However, one of the most hyped rollouts took place in 1999 with the promotion of Star Wars: Episode 1: The Phantom Menace.
Long before any of us realized what a trainwreck the Star Wars Prequels were going to be, resulting in Jar Jar Binks haunting our nightmares for eternity, the marketing gods thought that a new Star Wars film was a sure fire hit.
Now, I’m a Star Wars fan, but George Lucas completely lost it with these films. So painful to watch! However, we did get a pretty nifty set of special edition cans from PepsiCo that helped promote the movie.
At the time, I drove all over Chicago tracking down every one of the base set’s 24 cans. There were some extra cans thrown in there as well, such as the Gold Yoda, and even unnumbered cans featuring Storm, the precursor to Sierra Mist. In the end, I ordered a special display rack that showcased all 24 cans.
Products included in this promotion included Pepsi (8 cans), Diet Pepsi (4 cans), Mountain Dew (8 cans), and Pepsi One (4 cans). The cans were numbered with the name and bio of a character in The Phantom Menace. Additionally, there were hidden words buried in the artwork on each can. If you collected every one of them, you could put all the words together to figure out a ‘secret message’. I’ll save you the trouble; here’s what it was:
“Anakin breaks free but may face new enslavement”
“The Jedi triumph but their future is clouded”
“One menace is destroyed but another lurks nearby”
Anyway, I figured it would be fun here on BevReview if we ran a short-term series featuring these cans. Introducing “Phantom Phridays,” where each Friday we showcase one of the cans featured as part of this Star Wars promotion.
Feel free to comment, praise or complain about the films, and/or deeply analyze the can designs if you’d like.
We kick things off with #1: Anakin Skywalker, featured on a can of Pepsi. His bio:
Caring and charismatic, this young slave finds that the key to unlocking his destiny is his own inner strength. But the path ahead is a clouded one.
The secret word found on the can was New.
There are so many words that could be used to describe Anakin, but this is a family-friendly site. But hey, doesn’t he look great on that Pepsi can?
Tune in again next Friday as our Phantom Phridays tribute continues with another Star Wars Pepsi can!