All PR is good PR right? I’m not sure this is… or that it will increase Pepsi consumption.

 

Pepsi has succeeded in uniting the world… but not in the way it wanted. The global brand’s latest advert, posted to YouTube on Tuesday featuring Kendall Jenner, sees attractive young people holding protest signs with generic pleas such as “Join the conversation.” The protesters are in routine smiling, laughing, clapping, hugging and high-fiving.

The ad’s rather climactic final scene, shows us a police officer accepting a can of Pepsi from Jenner, triggering a grating celebration from the protesters.

The message is clear: all those Women’s Marches, Black Lives Matter protests, and demonstrations outside Trump Tower would be much more effervescent—and effective!—if someone had just brought some soda. – Wired: Pepsi’s Kendall Jenner Ad Was So Awful It Did the Impossible: It United the Internet

Unfortunately for Pepsi, the internet does not take kindly to cultural missteps in advertising and has far more power in amplifying a message – positively or negatively.

Pepsi has given in, being forced to apologise and taking to Twitter to make a statement:

“Pepsi was trying to project a global a message of unity, peace, and understanding. Clearly, we missed the mark, and we apologize.

“We are pulling the content and halting any further rollout. We also apologise for putting Kendall Jenner in this position.”

 

Perhaps the most scathing response to the advert comes from Bernice King, tweeting a photo of her father, civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr, being confronted by a police officer at a protest march – imagery that was portrayed toward the advert’s end. The tweet said “If only Daddy would have known about the power of Pepsi”. Ouch.

 

So what next for Pepsi and how can they recover from this? They can recover right?

As a marketer and big social media advocate, I’m saddened by Pepsi’s effort in engaging with it’s fans and loyal consumers – their social media profiles are dead and digital content has all but dried up… until they came out with this total misjudgement. For such a huge organisation, it is quite disappointing.

Whilst the creative business for Pepsi is managed by agency Firstborn, all social activity is managed by the companies new 4000 sq ft in-house content creation studio in Manhattan – not a great start then.

Here’s what Pepsi needs to do and what you can do to avoid similar disasters:

  1. Listen to your audience.
  2. Understand your audience.
  3. Authenticate with your audience.

Audience has to be the focus of any communication, the centre of any campaign, and its purpose. Granted, Pepsi has a wide, far-reaching, audience that includes many demographics, behaviours and interests. But this ad was targeted at an audience – the millions currently protesting and fighting for their beliefs in the US and across the world. So Kendall Jenner!? Jenner is one of the top 10 most followed celebrities on Instagram with 78.8million followers, an audience grown from the family business and work as a fashion model and tv personality – hardly relating to the movement Pepsi was trying to engage.

What Pepsi should be doing is authentically supporting the movement, uniting themselves with them to amplify the voices of the people involved through it’s own channels, not shamelessly ripping them off in a commercial.

 

Needless to say, the advert has been removed from Pepsi’s official channels but, alas, mistakes like this can never be removed from online having been reposted multiple times and by news channels too. It’s still live on ‘Kylie and Kendall’s’ own channel being the duo’s most viewed video by far, I’ve linked it below: