An Unimaginable Journey: How Pepsi Beat the Odds in Romania
by Aviad Meitar
An incredible story of how a group of visionary entrepreneurs got the rights to Pepsi in Romania and built a thriving beverage company over a 15-year period.
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An Unimaginable Journey
In An Unimaginable Journey, Aviad Meitar explores how the unlikely opportunity to take over the Pepsi business in Romania came to fruition. Meitar had virtually no knowledge of either the beverage industry or Romania, yet he recognized the value of bringing a first-class brand to a newly emerging market. Full of astonishing you-are-there details, this book is a fascinating tour of the challenges that Meitar and his colleagues faced in taking on a well-funded competitor, the Coca-Cola organization. Meitar provides a first-hand account of how a tenacious group of entrepreneurs navigated political, economic, management, and marketing highs and lows. His story culminates with the successful sale of the business to the second largest Pepsi bottler in the world, and the rebranding of his team to acquire the Pepsi business in Bulgaria.
- To learn more, visit www.aviadmeitar.com
- To watch Aviad's tutorial videos, visit Youtube Aviadmeitar channel.
I would like to describe to you a journey. Not an ordinary trip one
takes to the grocery store or the post office. this is an epic journey, a
fantastic journey, an unimaginable journey.
This journey seemed to start
on an old and majestic, sluggish, lurching, creaking ship with billowing
sails that were full at one moment and slack the next. Passengers came
on board and disembarked often, impatient with its slow progress. But
this journey was transformational for those who remained.
The ship altered its form before our weary eyes and became a
winding caravan as our numbers increased and we lumbered across
foreign territories unsure of where we were and where we were going.
in a final burst of light, our transportation became a spaceship
rocketing us into new dimensions and unlimited possibilities.
What treasures this voyage held for those who followed it to the end.
i was one of the first travelers to set foot on that creaking ship. As
i look back on the journey now, a smile crosses my face. Let me tell
you about the unlikely crew that assembled in a haphazard manner to
take a nearly impossible business opportunity and see it through to
fruition. this was our journey.
“Wait! do they serve drinks on this ship?”
“I’ll take a Coke.”
“Sorry, it will have to be Pepsi
ForeWord Clarion Reviews
Coke and Pepsi is one of the classic business rivalries. These arch-competitors continuously battle for market share around the world. Given Coca-Cola’s number one ranking, it is a sweet victory when Pepsi can rise to the top. That is exactly what happened in Romania, and An Unimaginable Journey is the story of that triumph.
Aviad Meitar was one of the principals involved in this unlikely success. Meitar’s book offers an inside look at how he and his team overcame insufficient funding, outmoded factories, a crumbling local economy, staffing challenges and, of course, competition from Coke to launch Pepsi and other drink brands in Romania.
Meitar breaks the book into chapters named after the various stages of a sailing expedition. While this is a somewhat overused technique, dividing the book into “Rough Waters on the Maiden Voyage,” “Filling the Sails,” “Surviving Stormy Seas,” and similarly named chapters helps to give the journey a compass.
The author describes the complexities of building a business in Romania and dealing with the worldwide Pepsi organization. One particular story symbolizes Meitar’s overall experience. He and his partners were able to arrange for a large illuminated Pepsi-Cola sign to be prominently placed in Bucharest. The Pepsi logo was visible any time television cameras showed the city, offering the brand significant free advertising.
But Pepsi decided to change its logo just months into the Romanian company’s operation, and that meant changing the logo everywhere it appeared. As for the sign in Bucharest, Meitar says, “Pepsi had produced it for us just a few months previously. In an instant, it became a relic of the past.”
Nonetheless, Meitar’s team rose above such corporate challenges, using aggressive marketing and product innovations to achieve substantial success. For example, Meitar convinced PepsiCo to sponsor Romania’s national soccer team in 1994. A major marketing campaign was created around the sponsorship, which helped give the Romanian company a competitive advantage over Coke. Even though Coke was a sponsor of the Soccer World Cup, “Romanians saw their team connected to Pepsi.”
During the 2000 Summer Olympics, Romanian swimmer Diana Mucanu won two gold medals. Meitar rushed to secure Mucanu as a spokesperson for Perla, a brand of mineral water marketed by the Romanian company. The move out-flanked Coke which was also interested in Mucanu.
The journey described by Aviad Meitar is nothing if not intriguing. This well-written and concise eyewitness account of building an American brand in an Eastern European country offers rare insight into how a business can succeed even in the face of the most daunting challenges.
“An Unimaginable Journey” by Aviad Meitar is an inspiring story. The author has a clear and easy to read writing style and he is not without a sense of humor. Put all of this together and Meitar’s readers will definitely enjoy his first-hand recounting of the sixteen year journey detailed in this book.
Meitar’s story starts with an idea; the idea of bringing Pepsi to Romania where until this point only the Romanian “elite” were lucky enough to drink it. “An Unimaginable Journey” details out an incredible undertaking by people with little to no experience or knowledge in the beverage industry or for that matter, Romania. His words and actions are a powerful reminder that no matter what someone says can or cannot be done if there is a burning desire to succeed then succeed you shall! In the end true determination will win out over any man-made obstacle.
Meitar’s book shows us the positives of “capitalism” and how it can be used to benefit all parties involved. His team went into a country with a population of twenty-three million and helped create jobs and business opportunities for its citizens. They knew this would also help in the rebuilding of Romania’s economy. They also managed to find charitable ways to give back to the community while still propelling the Pepsi brand further into the spotlight making it a win-win situation for all.
There is a chapter in the book which details out “The Viking Laws” and how they were enacted in this business venture. No matter where we each reside I feel these ancient “laws” still hold true even in today’s world. I wonder how much less complicated our lives would be if each person implemented them on a daily basis. I agree with Meitar in his assessment that these laws “apply beautifully to running a successful business in modern times.”
In summary “An Unimaginable Journey” is a fantastic read made even more phenomenal because it is a true story. I highly recommend this book to readers of ALL ages and from all walks of life. There were many important truths realized during this journey and Meitar has graciously shared them with us. I also look forward to reading about his current endeavors in Bulgaria in the future.
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Reader Reviews for "An Unimaginable Journey: How Pepsi Beat the Odds in Romania"
|Reviewed by m j hollingshead
|The establishment of the Pepsi Cola operations in Romania is a fascinating facet of the work however, "An Unimaginable Journey" is also the personal chronicle regarding a group of people filled with enthusiasm coupled to a grand dream as embarking on a journey spanning more than a decade in the realizing of that dream.
Filled with optimism and expectation, in the face of obstacles many would have found too daunting; Meitar and his fellow adventurers were not to be dissuaded in their venture. While not a business plan, the work is filled with good advice offered in a very readable manner, set down in a lucid, easy to read method filled with interesting settings, humor and inspiration for those who are willing to follow a dream from beginning to end. Obstacles can be overcome; they are simply bumps in the road to where we hope to be one day in the future.
Writer Meitar’s breezy command of language creates in interesting, interesting, interesting read sure to hold reader interest from prologue right down to epilogue as Meitar is surprised in 2007 to learn that the Romanian operation won PepsiCo’s worldwide Bottler of the Year Award and continues sailing into another adventure; this time the work is taking place in Bulgaria as Pepsi is once again introduced to a new market.
Surely a second book will follow.
Enjoyed the read, happy to recommend.
|Reviewed by John Domino
|You broke the ice with Pepico! Bravo!