Pepsi’s 1999 Star Wars Episode I collector cans
This week, I’m looking at many of the Episode I promotions. Yesterday I looked at some of the current promotions for the 3D release of Star Wars Episode I. Today, I’m going to go back in time to 1999 and look at the original Pepsi Star Wars collector can promotion during the original release of Episode I. Being a soda enthusiast as well as a Star Wars enthusiast any cross promotion between the two is a huge deal for me. So this giant Episode I promotion is one of my favorites.
Pepsi’s 24 collector character cans were the huge promotion everyone probably remembers even to this day. There were 24 character cans in the entire set. There were 8 Pepsi and Mt Dew cans and 4 Diet Pepsi and Pepsi One cans. Pepsi One was newly released in 1999.
I actually bought cases of Pepsi, Mtn Dew, Pepsi One and Diet Pepsi to get all the cans. Cans were released in waves (see the list here) every 2-3 weeks and each 12 and 24 pack of cans only contained one character. So, obviously, like everyone else, I wound up with a ton of extras. I remember the very last character can I needed to complete the set was the Diet Pepsi with the Battle Droid. It took months to find it but I finally did and had to buy a 24 pack of cans to get it. The pic above is, I believe, a salesman’s sample of the complete 24 can set. There are no tops on those cans. I acquired this a few years after Episode I. It came together in a lot with a bunch of Pepsi promo material, the cool black Pepsi can holder you see holding the cans in the pic and the cool Pepsi Destiny can (which I’ll discuss in a minute).
Inserted randomly into cases of these character cans was a chase Gold Yoda can. If you found one, you could send it in to receive $20.
Each soda flavor had it’s own Gold Yoda can, so in actuality there is a set of four Gold Yodas, one each for Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Mtn Dew and Pepsi One. Pepsi One being the most rare.
The 12 and 24 packs of soda for each of the participating flavors had Star Wars character art on them. Below are the 12 pack boxes for Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Mt Dew and Pepsi One. These are cool, I guess, but there was much more colorful Pepsi packaging artwork for the Star Wars Special Editions two years earlier in 1997 (here, here and here). It makes these seem a little plain. Especially with just the black/white/gray head shots.
After the Gold Yoda promotion, Pepsi released a second chase can. The Pepsi Destiny can. It featured a color picture of Anakin Skywalker and Darth Vader. Here’s an ad from TV Guide promoting that can. I’m not sure how rare this can is as it was also sold by the Star Wars Fan Club with an acrylic case.
I actually have the Pepsi Destiny can. Like I said, I got it in a lot from the same guy that got me the salesman sample Pepsi cans above.
Also in 1999, Pepsi was test marketing a new soda called Storm. It was a caffeinated lemon-lime soda and possibly the precursor to Sierra Mist. The test market Storm cans also had Star Wars characters on them. They were essentially copies of the Pepsi Qui-Gon Jinn and Pepsi Jar Jar Binks cans, but unnumbered. Pepsi was passing out free cans of Storm to people who attended the original Star Wars Celebration in Denver.
So those are the Pepsi collector can promotions for the original release of Star Wars Episode I back in 1999.
This promotion was done outside the US as well. However, the cans were a little different. In Canada Pepsi hadn’t released Pepsi One yet, so they put the Pepsi One characters on 7-Up cans. Many countries overseas hadn’t received (and never received) Pepsi One so characters were put on cans of Pepsi Max which has been overseas for years (only recently hitting the US). Many of the overseas cans were also more colorful and featured color character pics and graphics.
Come back either tomorrow or Thursday to see some more Episode I promotional material from 1999.