What Can You Learn From The Pepsi Commercial Debacle?
by Josh Amidon
This past week media darling, Kendall Jenner, effortlessly solved almost every kind of discrimination imaginable with a can of Pepsi. At least, that’s what Pepsi would want you to think with their new 2 minute and 39 second commercial – but within 48 hours debuting it, Pepsi had it pulled and had to apologize for insensitively using social issues to sell their soda.
For those of you who haven’t seen the ad – take a look:
This ad has done something almost no other ad has – it’s universally panned across the advertising industry. Many even calling it “the worst ad of all time.” I don’t think I would go THAT far, my vote goes to those mutant singing rodents from the Quiznos commercials (they still haunt my dreams).
So, what did Pepsi do wrong and more importantly, what can you learn from their mistake?
- Never sell your product in a way that exploits the suffering of other people. That one seems obvious but I’ll include it in this list of lessons anyways. Don’t make light of social issues. Trivializing the seriousness of so many hot button issues – saying a mere can of Pepsi can solve all the problems in the world – won’t be received well.
- Don’t attempt to dramatize a real event. Recreating something like a protest march in such an unrealistic way (why is everyone so freakin’ happy?) misses the mark.
- Be authentic! Don’t make false declarations, such as suggesting your can of fuzzy sugar has the power to unite.
As mentioned before, Pepsi has offered a seemingly sincere apology and pulled the ad. Overall, this is just a speed bump in their history of amazing ads. As for Kendall Jenner? I’m not positive, but I assume she’s in North Korea with a 6 pack of Pepsi, brokering a peace deal with Kim Jong Un.