Search This Blog

Monday, April 3, 2017

PEPSI: You Should Have Called The Media Guy!

Okay, so where am I?

I'm waiting by the phone hoping Indra Nooyi, the CEO of PepsiCo, dials my ten digits so we can discuss their latest Kendall Jenner spot. I mean, I feel for Indra Nooyi because how many people at Pepsi are going to get fired? I say this is because I can't remember the last time a big corporation with deep pockets making this kind of advertising mistake. Before I get going on another media rant, take a look at the ad...

Isn't it lovely how the cola giant joined the fray in capitalizing on a Trump America where big business appropriates real feelings and related imagery from serious protests to sell product? All the while, corporations are minimizing the danger protesters encounter and the frustrations that inevitably get pushed within.

In a bit of Hollywood fantasy, the ad’s climactic scene shows a police officer accepting a can of Pepsi from Kendall Jenner, setting off riotous approval from the protesters and an appreciative grin from the officer. This is precisely the opposite of real-world experiences of protesting police brutality. Who knew police officers just needed a Pepsi to stop beating and shooting civilians?

Back to the rant...'s bad enough to have an ad that people don't care about, but what you cannot do with your media buy is produce a national spot attached to your product that people despise. You just can't do it and I am shocked that this even made it to air because it had to go through so many approval cycles jsut to get produced. This isn't one person's decision, there are executives after executive weighing in. A production team, writing staff, and more.

So we've arrived in 2017 in an interesting place where Steve Harvey messed up the Miss Universe announcement...when the Oscars get botched by Faye Dunaway (yes her and NOT Warren Beaty)...when Mariah Carey can get furious while lip-syncing onstage on New Year's Eve...that truly bad publicity is good publicity. We've arrived in a place where you get more attention by botching things to the point where you might think that some people might actually do things badly for the extra publicity.

But this mindset can't be what Pepsi was going for with the Jenner spot. My guess is that if you asked Pepsi, "would you like to go back and do it over again?" that they would jump on the opportunity. They are just too big to make such a colossal blunder. You never want this hatred anywhere near your marketing and advertising.

Lady on the left: “Hey, Kendall, why are you pawning your wig off to me?"
Maybe they were looking for genius to be assigned to them for this campaign, simply on the merits that nearly all of their ads work. There was no genius in this work and no brilliant strategy that this would get people talking and thus help the brand. I'm finding it difficult to believe that after all of the pop star ads and not-so-subtle shade at Coca-Cola that Pepsi wants to be edgy.

Alternative thinking was that Pepsi was jumping on board with the notion of being socially responsible would give them a leg up. Oh goodness no!

This is why you do focus groups and you send the spot to the team for a looksee and enable your staff to have a voice. The hope is that someone, anyone would speak up. Maybe someone spoke up and maybe they didn't.

C'mon Indra, one call to the Media Guy—before you spent millions on a campaign like this.—could have solved all of your issues. A simple review of your story boards or creative brief by your new Commissioner of Common Sense (that's me) would have saved all that embarrassment. My moderate salary or retainer fee would have already paid for itself.
A Pepsi Google search looks something like this...
A bit of advice...the ONE THING you cannot do with your advertising is offend the public at large. If you're working in your our creative vacuum or within a creative team and I ask, "what's the worst case scenario on our ad and how people react?"...what's the response?

The worst case scenario is definitely "offending the viewers" and staining the brand with offensive publicity. You want people to like your product. You don't want them talking about how another Jenner/Kardashian is jinxing your brand. These are same people who pixelate logos and brands out of their television shows.

So here we have Kendall Jenner catwalking down the street from Privilege Island to sell some cola while sashaying through real protests is at the height of misconceived notions. Staggering in its stupidity if you will.

With this in mind I feel sorry for the people who will be fired because today people are talking about Pepsi, only to laugh at it.

So Indra, one final time, please, for the sake of your brand: call me back. You'll be happy you did.

UPDATE - April 5, 2017: