Series of 8 photographs, 40 x 40 cm. Fine art prints on aluminium composite panel, 2017
When I came to Budapest a few times in the early 1990s, the Pepsi Cola logo was omnipresent: you could find it on almost every grocery store, on “ABC” corner shops and on kiosks. However – contrary to my assumption at that time – this did not represent a Western brand’s campaign of conquest shortly after the fall of “Iron Curtain” and the opening of the borders. Pepsi Cola had been there for a long time:
In 1959 Richard Nixon, then vice-president of the US, had offered the Soviet premier Khrushchev a glass of Pepsi at the Pepsi Cola stand of the American National Exhibition in Moscow; Khrushchev reportedly drank it down with delight. Along with the images of the legendary Kitchen Debate which took place at the same time, this image travelled around the world as a symbol of hopes for a possible military détente during the Cold War.
For the Pepsi brand this event opened doors into the Soviet Union and other Warsaw Pact countries. This period also marked the beginning of the so-called Cola War between Pepsi Cola and Coca Cola, which the two brands would fight out relentlessly over the following decades in a struggle for world domination. Richard Nixon, who had been a lawyer for Pepsi for many years, finally played a part as president in a 1970s deal that would secure Pepsi exclusive rights in the Soviet Union for 20 years.
The old Pepsi Cola logos and advertisements have almost entirely disappeared from the Budapest cityscape since that time. On the one hand, they were testimonies to the transition from the Cold War and a planned economy to a market economy; on the other hand, however, they were also the symbol of a trade war that was actually carried out between American big brands – around the world and hidden from public view.
While exploring the city in 2016/17, I was able to locate and photographically document a small handful of advertisements still remaining in the cityscape. The result is the series Love Is the Answer. (M.F.)
Based in Vienna/Austria. Numerous documentary and urbanistic photo projects about Vienna. Freelance work in the areas of graphic design, project development and urban photography. PhD in theatre studies and additional degrees in theatre, film and media studies as well as journalism and communication science from the University of Vienna.
Photo top of this page: © Martin Frey