Here's some advice the marketing people at Pepsi should have learned in the 1st grade: Don't discuss religion or politics.
In April 2017, Pepsi rolled out a video ad that featured Kendall Jenner walking through a protest, and handing a Pepsi to one of the police officers standing guard.
The protest is clearly a depiction of one of many Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests that have been taking place since the Trayvon Martin incident in February, 2012.
Following the ad, there was tremendous backlash from supporters of the BLM movement who immediately took to Twitter:
At first, Pepsi defended the ad during the first wave of attacks in the most corporate-speak convoluted explanation I have ever heard:
Pepsi: “The creative showcases a moment of unity, and a point where multiple storylines converge in the final advert. It depicts various groups of people embracing a spontaneous moment, and showcasing Pepsi’s brand rallying cry to ‘Live For Now,’ in an exploration of what that truly means to live life unbounded, unfiltered and uninhibited."
What does that even mean?
Whoever wrote this was saving face, not living "unbounded, unfiltered and uninhibited."
They should have just said: "We were trying to sell soda by seeming to give a sh#t about the perceived struggles of young people."
The ad was eventually pulled, and Pepsi issued an apology that was much more coherent:
Pepsi: "Clearly we missed the mark, and we apologize."
Was that so difficult?
Pepsi wanted to promote goodwill and their brand at the same time, and they failed horribly. But why? Who hates goodwill?
Why Did This Ad Fail?
Pepsi seriously under-minded the thoughts and emotions of people on the left side of the picket line depicted in their ad.
To many supporters of BLM, they are at war with the police. In a war, there is no unity or peace with the enemy. Only destruction and unbridled surrender. Drinking a can of Pepsi is neither.
Pepsi failed to realize that there is currently a TON of animosity toward police, and many supporters of certain movements could care less about unity, and more about killing police.
Not only that, but Pepsi trivializing the solution to the problems between police and black people is both insulting and horribly avaricious to the people actually trying to solve them.
Now the question is: What should be Coca-Cola's next move to exploit their rival's mistake? Wave and smile.Don't compete — DOMINATE.
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Matt Steffen was Listed by Forbes as the #1 Marketing Consultant Who Avoids the B.S.