Peter Arnell has managed to create a reality distortion field that must have an epicenter at Pepsi HQ.

Ad Age reports that his latest work for Tropicana is being tossed:

Pepsico’s Tropicana brand is junking the new orange juice package design it only just launched weeks ago. The beverage marketer is switching back to its old design whose centerpiece is an orange skewered by a drinking straw. In this video recorded at a press conference five weeks ago, Arnell Group CEO Peter Arnell vigorously defends his agency’s carton design that has now been withdrawn from the market.

Peter Arnell Explains Failed Tropicana Package Design - Advertising Age - Video.

The video that goes with it is well worth the watch:

I’ve always preferred the Minute Maid graphics done by by the Duffy & Partners years back.

Minute Maid Packaging by Duffy and Partners

Minute Maid Packaging by Duffy and Partners

However, I’ve always bought Tropicana because I prefer the taste. More on taste as a competitive factor shortly.

Arnell, of course, also redid the Pepsi logo, in a move that has been questioned and discussed by many.

There is a PDF document floating around (Pepsi Gravitational Field or “Breathtaking Design Strategy) that purports to be the “design rationale” for the move to the new logo (that has been likened to the Obama logo over and over). Ad Age questions the validity of the document, and both Pepsi and Arnell aren’t talking.

Ad Age graphic of the Pepsi logo evolution

Ad Age graphic of the Pepsi logo evolution

The cost to implement a new logo for a company like Pepsi is huge. Every truck, machine, cooler, point-of-purchase will need to be retooled and updated. Great for sign companies and printers and design firms like Arnell’s.

However, I found this even more interesting: Pepsi is about to launch “Pepsi Throwback” for a limited time. The “throwback” is replacement of the low-cost high fructose corn syrup and returning to pure cane sugar as the sweetener in the product, a real, tangible product improvement and point of differentiation.

As a conniseur of root beers, I can tell you that there is no comparison between those that use pure cane sugar to those using high fructose corn syrup. Virgil‘s is one of my absolute favorites.

Had Pepsi really wanted to improve their marketing, maybe, they should take the lesson from their orange juice business- making your product taste better can make up for a bad package design any day of the week. And, if they went back to the Pepsi taste test campaign, once they’ve returned to pure cane sugar, they might find the magic mojo they need to finally beat Coke. Of course, they’d have to stop believing in “breathtaking design strategies” and focus on product quality, which should always be your first step in marketing anything (ask the big 3 auto companies).