Pepsi: The Un-Authentic Taste

By now you have probably heard about the Pepsi Commercial featuring Kendall Jenner that is causing a stir and being highly criticized for commercializing protests. Which is odd because corporations support a variety of issues, they even dedicate a person to manage giving and partnerships. Industry even has a label for this activity, it’s called Corporate Social Responsibility. However Pepsi some seemed to have developed this advertisement in a stove pipe and ignored all social media content rules.

If you have not seen this commercial watch here:

A short film about the moments when we decide to let go, choose to act, follow our passion and nothing holds us back. Capturing the spirit and actions of those people that jump in to every moment and featuring multiple lives, stories and emotional connections that show passion, joy, unbound and uninhibited moments. No matter the occasion, big or small, these are the moments that make us feel alive.

Where did they go wrong?

In this instance we need to look at a few areas in the realm of digital content. First storytelling, this ad has all the elements of a good story with the exception of a unique character. Kendall Jenner isn’t a journeyman that symbolizes “resistance.” I argue there are very few celebrities that can nail this role. Jenner is corporate, she is fashion, she is wealthy and made her living through a reality TV show originally based on her sister’s reputation and fame.

With everything going on in the world, Pepsi cowardly did not latch to any one particular issue in this ad. So by being risk adverse, they avoided conflict and did not associate their brand with an issue that may impact any of the communities that their product is placed. Death and sadness are not themes Pepsi wanted to associate their product but it’s happening in communities every day. By dressing up the ad in blue and red signs with nondescript protest signs clearly shows there is a gap between Mad Men and the communities.

But the greatest sin of them all, with everything in consideration, Pepsi lost it’s authentic voice. The key principle in any digital content, especially if you are going to use a faux-cause-marketing ad.

Disappointingly, the ad ends with Kendall and crowd cheering, as if they were victorious. Not all demonstrations achieve this euphoria and the struggle for some causes continue even after the crowds dissipate.

Pepsi Clear: Tell Your Brand’s Story and Be There

Pepsi can bounce back if they choose to look in the mirror and find their authentic voice and speak from a place that represents their consumers, their brand perception and brand truth. First phone call should be with their Corporate Social Responsibility Director.

Tide Laundry Detergent hit the ball out of the park with their Tide Loads of Hope ad that genuinely reflected the brand’s voice.

But more importantly the Pepsi will need to stand up for their consumers and the company will need to demonstrate a more active role in their communities.

Whatever comes next for Pepsi, it should not be an ad to ask for you to enjoy a Pepsi, but rather there should a call to action. Donate. Write a letter to a congressional leader. Send water in Pepsi cans to disaster areas.

Pepsi, it’s time for you to re-join your communities and listen to the people, their stories, their concerns. Then take a stand, speak and make a difference.

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