The Pepsi commercials of the 1990s banked on big name, celebrity endorsements. For example, the most “sticky” commercial from that era is the Pepsi commercial featuring Michael Jackson; it was equivalent to an elaborate, well-choreographed music video. This particular commercial had a certain “sticky” to it not only because of the theatrics, but Michael Jackson’s hair caught on fire during a dress rehearsal, where he was rushed to the hospital and treated for 2nd and 3rd degree burns to his scalp. That particular commercial turned into headline news. Of course, that is not the norm, but it did leave an impression.

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The MJ Pepsi commercial would not impress consumers that much now because that was the 1990s when that generation was looking for someone or something outside of themselves to identify with and emulate. Today’s generation is more introspective and an endorsement of a product by a peer means more than one from a celebrity. Rather than splashing a celebrity’s face on the product label as was done in the 1990s, today’s marketers are reaching out to fans of the brand and letting them spread the word about the product. Instead of star power, marketers rely on influencers in social media. This is word of mouth marketing on a grand scale.

The old way of marketing started with a “big idea,” followed by a company spending millions of dollars buying television and radio spots. Instead of viral marketing, ad agencies used direct mail, public relations and telemarketing. The marketers of the 1990s bombarded the consumers with their (the marketer’s) big idea. Today’s generation of marketers make use of social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as the new and improved, tried and true strategy of word of mouth. Today’s marketers analyze how the consumers are acting, and design a campaign around them, rather than the 1990s era technique of beating consumers into submission.