Thursday, April 6

Pepsi - Oh My

I'm a big believer that marketing is a spectator sport...meaning we can learn from what brands do in the marketplace.

So let's learn from the recent film from Pepsi and Kendall Jenner. A small piece of marketing that sparked a huge backlash almost instantaneously.

Have we not learned from Starbucks and #RaceTogether?

Sure, I have been saying for years that it's perfectly fine for brands to take a social stand. Provided the brand stays true to itself and provided it stays within what's relevant coming from the brand. And provided that it's culturally relevant and appropriate. Not easy things to figure out for sure.

But let's be one brand can solve an issue as big as race. Or discrimination. Or prejudice. So no one brand should ever try.

Sure, a brand can contribute to a conversation but it can't solve it. And that, I believe, is the miss here. Pepsi tried to show that one simple can of soda can unite the world. Starbucks tried to show that one simple cup of coffee can bring people together to talk. But it's just not that simple.

So no one brand should ever try.

It's fine to say you'll contribute to a solution, but it's quite another to say that you'll make it go away. That's just simply insincere and inappropriate. And makes it look like all you care about is selling product.

Which is the last thing you want to do in marketing, particularly now.

And one quick note about Kendall Jenner. I'm neither a Kardashian fan or foe, but I have to say that she's not as innocent here as many are crediting her. She should have taken a hard look at this campaign ahead of time and she should have made a decision on whether to participate or not. It's not just a "job" but a social statement. She should have made a more conscious decision IMHO.

Let's learn from this! What's your experience? JIM

PS - This post also appears on Huffington Post so click here if you prefer to read it there.

1 comment:

  1. I found out that the Pepsi ad was created by an internal corporate team, and on reflection I think that it explains the major reason why the ad was so "tone deaf", to borrow from the naysayers. As you mentioned, broad campaigns that are attempting to tackle a multi-layered issue, weather it's on race, gender, or sexual orientation (to name a few) will most likely be taken as a shallow and rose-colored view of the social problem on the whole. While there are examples of brands addressing social issues successfully (Always/"Like a Girl", Arie/ "Real Women", etc), the campaigns typically do well because they address a small faction of the larger issue. The Pepsi ad attempted to address any and all issues that any American has ever protested, and as a result it was viewed as trite, tone deaf, and insulting to civil rights groups past and present. In short, I believe that the ad's creation was siloed, the corporate environment may have stifled dissent, and the resulting ad resonated with precious few in their target market.