Jon Thomas
Jon Thomas
Communications Director

This Soda Pop Eccentric is a Content Marketing Genius

To say that John Nese is passionate about his job is an understatement. When Nese, the proprietor of Galco’s Soda Pop Stop in Los Angeles, was asked to describe his product in one word, he simply replied: “Happy.” How about two words? His second answer was “Smile.” So who is this wacky soda man who speaks like Frankenstein? Turns out he’s a brilliant storyteller. And he had the cajones to stand up to Pepsi.

In a world of massive discount retailers and monopolies over most food and beverage brands (think Pepsi, Coke), John bucks the trend. He staked the claim on his own shelves by saying “thanks but no thanks” to Pepsi. That’s right, Pepsi. That’s because his story isn’t about carrying the brands that customers “think” they want and salespeople insist he sell.

“The important thing is to set yourself apart and provide your customers with something that nobody else has,” says John.

While the video below is over 12 minutes – far longer than the average YouTube viewer’s attention span – it is well worth it.

From a content marketing perspective, the Soda Pop Stop is unrivaled. Nobody carries as many bottled soda brands (around 500), and many of them can only be found in his store. In addition to the selection, the experience that John provides his customers can’t be duplicated, because John is one-of-a-kind. As you walk the aisles with him you realize that John has a story for every soda. After hearing all his stories, how can you not buy an assorted 12-pack? How can you not yearn to taste the Sweet Blossom floral sodas bottled in Romania and pressed from real crushed rose petals (not available anywhere else in the United States)?  Or how about the Red Ribbon root beer made from the bark of sassafras?

The fact that John refuses to follow the industry norm of disgruntled employees selling the standard soda lineup in plastic bottles and aluminum cans at a minuscule profit (if any) is exactly why the Soda Pop Stop is considered the ultimate soda lover’s destination and gets the Post-Advertising stamp of approval. He offers choice, quality, engagement, and an experience that can’t be duplicated.

It’s in this experience and the engaging stories that customers find value. It’s why this small grocer has been featured on the Food Channel, CBS, and the Tokyo Times. It’s the simple formula of great content and authentic storytelling driving deep consumer engagement, without the need for traditional marketing.  Just don’t ask him about high-fructose corn syrup…or diet sodas.

Video courtesy of
Image courtesy of Darwin Bell on Flickr

  • Frederik

    This is a great example of film content that is so great that you will seek it out. Anyone claiming that TV ads are simply evolving onto the digital channel should watch this type of long form arresting content.
    This is about as far from an ad as you can get (the script, the pace, the messaging), yet it sells the concept so bloody well. I will never forget about this film. I can’t remember a single ad from yesterday.

  • Jon Thomas

    “I will never forget about this film. I can’t remember a single ad from yesterday.”

    That’s exactly how I felt, and why I posted it. I first saw it when it was mentioned in a Seth Godin blog post one year ago. When I came across it again recently, it gave me the same feeling it did the first time I saw it. As I said, it’s the greatest marketing video I’ve ever seen and John is the greatest marketer, and that’s because he’s not marketing at all. He’s just telling his story – one filled with Passion.

    - Jon

  • Miami Web Design

    this was a great article. This is one of my favorite drinks & to see how successful he’s become from selling this great product is just fantastic. The POP Creative Group approves!

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