Crystal Pepsi is a soft drink made by PepsiCo. It was first sold in Europe in the early 1990s. The United States and Canada received it from 1992 to 1994, with brief rereleases from 2015 to 2017. It was briefly sold in the UK and Australia.
In the early 1990s, a marketing fad called the Clear Craze equated clarity with purity. This began with the remake of Ivory soap, whose marketing slogan had already been "99 and 44/100 percent pure", from its classic milky solution. The "clear" idea spread to many companies and product types including PepsiCo's development of a clear cola. Crystal Pepsi was marketed as a caffeine-free "clear alternative" to normal colas. Its marketing slogan was "You've never seen a taste like this".
In 1992, PepsiCo introduced Crystal Pepsi to test markets in Denver, Sacramento, Dallas, Providence, and Grand Rapids, and the product generated a positive response. Pleased with the results, PepsiCo launched the cola on April 12, 1992, and began to sell it nationwide in 1993. A large marketing campaign was launched, for which the company invented the world's first photo-realistic, computer-generated bus wrap printing. A series of television advertisements featuring Van Halen's hit song "Right Now" premiered on national television on January 31, 1993, during Super Bowl XXVII. Another marketing ploy was to give out full sized sample bottles with the Sunday paper deliveries such as the Boston Globe in Massachusetts. In its first year, Crystal Pepsi captured a full percentage point of U.S. soft drink sales, approximately $474 million. Coca-Colafollowed suit by launching Tab Clear on December 14, 1992. That company's previous clear cola had been a secret one-off made as a particular political favor between Dwight D. Eisenhower and the Soviet Union in the 1940s, to disguise the American beverage as vodka, and was named White Coke.
By late 1993, Pepsi pulled the drink off the market, and the final batches were delivered to retailers during the first few months of 1994. Pepsi returned several months later with a reformulated citrus-cola hybrid called Crystal From Pepsi, but that was short-lived as well.
According to Coca-Cola's chief marketing officer, Sergio Zyman, Tab Clear was an intentionally "suicidal kamikaze" effort to create an unpopular beverage that was positioned as an analogue of Crystal Pepsi in order to "kill both in the process". The "born to die" strategy included using the poor-performing Tab brand rather than Coke, labeling the product as a "sugar free" diet drink to confuse consumers into thinking Crystal Pepsi had no sugar, and marketing the product as if it were "medicinal". Zyman said "Pepsi spent an enormous amount of money on the brand and, regardless, we killed it. Both of them were dead within six months."