bubly began in February 2017 as Project X. The goal: Develop a new sparkling water beverage and get it on shelves in just 18 months.
Developing the drink took the full power of PepsiCo, with a team that included researchers, scientists, flavorists, designers and marketers.
As of 2020, all bubly is packaged in 100% recyclable cans as part of a push for maximum sustainability along the supply chain.
The biggest challenge for food scientists: creating maximum impact with minimal ingredients, and absolutely no carbs or calories.
For each variety of bubly, flavorists created up to 30 recipes to perfect the taste.
The sweetness that you taste in the pineapple flavor comes from fruity esters that help enhance the subtle cotton candy notes of a fresh pineapple.
It’s a sustainable practice to ship just flavor ingredients to bottling plants where they’re combined with locally sourced water.
At every plant, the water has to meet identical standards for purity, carbonation and pH level.
It just felt like everything that we were going to do had to be centered around bringing smiles. And that’s kind of how bubly was born.
senior director, insights and analytics
Commercial Advanced Analytics & Insight Senior Manager: The senior manager worked on bubly “morning, noon and night” to fast track insight and get the product into development. That position gets to work with packaging designers and brand marketers to turn data and analysis into a successful product.
I could go on and on about the challenges that we faced. But I would just say that it was a big challenge and a big accomplishment.
associate principal scientist
Associate Scientist, Flavorist Trainee: So you want to be a Flavor Chemist? The best way to learn is to work for a company like PepsiCo that trains flavorists internally. (Most trainees have a degree in chemistry or a similar field.) You apprentice under a master or senior flavor chemist and learn about the basics of raw materials, essential oils, botanical extracts and aroma chemicals. Then, after five years, you take your apprentice certification to become a certified Junior Flavor Chemist. Then, after two additional years, you take a more rigorous full certification to become a certified Flavor Chemist.
When PepsiCo researchers investigated sparkling water, they found people most wanted something “fun to drink.” That became the true north for design, and the smile was born.
Designers approached the can with four elements in mind: the smile, cheeky greetings, bubbles and the perfect color for each flavor.
As a first step in selecting the color palette for each flavor, designers tasted each one from a small sampling cup served by the R&D team.
An integral part of bubly branding, bubbles tee up the sparkling goodness inside each can.
The smile is central to the design – it’s even included as part of the logo in the “u”.
Each flavor gets its own version that includes an element of the flavor inside.
Each tab says hello in its own way – always in five characters or fewer. And even a little tab is a big part of the supply chain: The tab for each new flavor takes 24 weeks to prepare.
Near the nutrition facts, every flavor has different copy: cheeky stuff like Hold cans with me or Here’s to the next sip.
Consumer Designer: According to designer Desiree Tomich, as a designer you need to understand your craft, but a PepsiCo designer also has to understand the business side of the brand since you’re working closely with finance, marketing and research (among others) to create the perfect product. “And I love seeing the end result,” she says. “Like when I walk into the store and I see a pack of bubly that I designed, I get super jazzed.”
And then we basically turn a switch on right before launch. And then we really start selling bubly.
senior manager, integration
PepsiCo Supply Chain Associate: This is the place to start if you’re interested in supply chain. This position lets you see the full length of the logistics through various assignments in production, warehouse operations, maintenance, quality, planning, transportation engineering, customer integration, commercialization and supply chain strategy.
We were trying to launch with eight flavors. How were we even going to get the shelf space for that?
director of marketing
Brand Marketing: Giving brands a voice is the main goal of PepsiCo marketers. “Our job is ensuring that everything from the look and feel to the tonality of the brands can come to life,” Marisa Bartning, director of marketing, says. It also means you get to work on ad campaigns, sports partnerships, social media campaigns and everything it takes to keep a brand exciting and relevant to consumers.