10 (10) Pepsi
: £352.3m +7.4%
Launch: 1898

While Coke’s Olympic parade was being rained on, Pepsi sneaked up and stole Britain’s biggest brand’s thunder. How?

Through a combination of savvy promotional offers, format innovation (namely the introduction of a 250ml can) and renewed emphasis behind Pepsi Max, which now accounts for half of Pepsi’s sales and delivered 60% of the brand’s growth in 2012.

“It was an important year for retailers and manufacturers alike, so we wanted to ensure we stepped up our activity to reflect this,” says Ian Forshew, commercial director for grocery at Pepsi’s bottler and distributor Britvic.

“The activity has seen the brand drive 70% of overall cola category growth, which equates to a staggering £38m.”

This activity didn’t include forking out more on traditional advertising, either. Pepsi actually cut its spend on ad space by 44% last year [Nielsen].

“Key to Pepsi’s growth has been a series of well-executed shopper deals with strong consumer appeal,” says Forshew. “Led by sugar-free brand Pepsi Max, these included linked purchase deals with Doritos that tapped into seasonal occasions, and events and cross-portfolio promotions.”

The year certainly wasn’t short of special occasions - the torch relay, the Games themselves, the Jubilee - and Pepsi managed to make the most of them and steal share from Coke.

“Despite the poor weather during the crucial July and August eight-week period, cola category growth was 6% and Pepsi percentage growth was 14%, which added £5.5m to the category during this time period,” adds Forshew.

One thing’s for certain, though: after Coke’s drubbing in its Olympic year, the gloves are going to come off in cola in 2013. And Pepsi will have to keep up the pressure to deliver the necessary fizz.