(published in the UB Post on Monday January 23)
The bell sounds.
The hiss of a Pepsi can sprays its carbonated glory into the rafters surrounding the ring. The snap of its opponent, a muscular Coke can with bulging red biceps, sends shivers down the spines of all in attendance. The cameras surrounding the ring flash as the Coke can takes the first swing. The Pepsi can ducks, coming in with a hard right.
The war between Coke and Pepsi is the new Hundred Years’ War.
It will last well into the 22nd century and beyond, from coast to coast, mountain to mountain, villa to villa, couch to couch, and if we are lucky (or should I say, if the space tourist industry is lucky), from planet to planet. The war started at the turn of the 20th century with blind taste tests, massive marketing campaigns, catchy slogans and ample buzz words. The goal? To be the number one cola, the number one caffinator, the number one can of sugar and carbonation. To win the cola wars.
We are witnessing the start of a Cola War in Mongolia and no one seems to be paying attention. No one is building barracks, no one is stocking up on water, no one is running to the countryside for cover.
Opening a small plant through local bottler MCS in 2002, Coke and its popularity have soared in sales for ten years now. In 2008, MCS opened a USD 22 million dollar Coke facility in Mongolia just to meet demand. When the smaller Coke factory first opened its doors in 2002, Mongolian consumers chugged four eight-ounce servings per person. Six years later as the new factory was opening, a typical Mongolian consumer drank 70 servings per year. Odjargal Jambaljamts, Chairman and CEO of MCS added, “Both the bottling company the Coca-Cola Company have exceeded all projections of profitability and sales. Our investment in the new plant is just our first step to bring world class manufacturing to Mongolia.”
Translation: the cola war is far from over.
At the end of the last decade, Pepsi too stepped onto the battlefield to wage war against Coke in the land of the Mongol Empire. Realizing they’d better catch up quick, Pepsi signed a deal with GN beverages to produce Miranda, Pepsi and 7-Up to compete locally with Coke. Setting up a factory with the latest German and Japanese technology to ensure quality, Pepsi has wasted no time in laying a solid foundation for their tactical operations.
To better train their cola soldiers, Coke has been sending Mongolian workers to the Coca-Cola University in Shanghai. One can only imagine the type of strategic planning, quality control tactics and rigorous boot camp that must go on there:
“What is this soldier!?”
“A bottle of Pepsi, sir!”
“Who is your target?”
“Do you drink Pepsi soldier!?”
“Soldier, how many grams of sugar are in a Pepsi!?”
“Forty-two grams, sir!”
“Wrong! Forty-one grams! Drop and give me twenty push-ups!”
Other Coca-Cola boot camp ideas? The trainee must crawl on his or her belly across a field of crushed Coke cans. The trainee must be able to open a glass bottle of coke with his or her teeth. The trainee must be able to tell the difference in a blind taste test between a can of Coke and a can of Pepsi. The trainee must do push-ups with four cases of Cokes stacked across his or her back. A background check must be performed on the trainee and his or her family to weigh their Coke vs. Pepsi consumption. If over the course of a single year, the trainee’s family has consumed more Pepsi than Coke, the trainee is automatically disqualified from attending the university.
Pepsi appears to be a bit more laconic about their training procedure for potential cola warriors. Does Pepsi have a secret underground base (possibly in Russia or China) where they train future factory employees? Is there secret cola military base underwater off the coast of Japan? What is the Pepsi Challenge and what are its true implications? The debate keeps conspiracy theorists across the globe up at night trolling Wikileaks for information. Only the cola gods know what sorts of weapons of mass consumption Pepsi has in store for the steppe.
As it stands right now, MCS group and their Coca-Cola warriors seem to be winning the race to provide popular mixers and afternoon pick-me-ups to a growing economy of cola connoisseurs. Further, MCS owns a number of bars and retail outlets, which only increase their chance of winning the war. Even Santa Claus has weighed in on what beverage he prefers. But the war is far from over. Lying dormant like a sleeping blue giant, Pepsi seems to be preparing for a large assault across the cityscape of Ulaanbaatar. By opening a factory in Mongolia, Pepsi is one step closer to infiltrating the cola masses and filling their minds and stomachs with carbonated goodness. Is Pepsi up for the challenge?