Hold my beer! Here’s 10 even worse ideas for Pepsi commercials
“Don’t tell my mom I work in advertising! She thinks I play piano in a whorehouse.”
So goes the old joke about working in advertising being an embarrassment. I’m actually quite proud of my job as an advertising creative.
Or at least I was, until yesterday, when the Kendall Jenner / Pepsi ad destroyed the reputation of our industry for a (new) generation.
So without further ado, I’d like to offer Pepsi these alternative ad campaigns…
What’s the worst that could happen?
10. Star trek: The choice of the next generation
Advertising follows a herd mentality. “Brand purpose” is an advertising trend at the moment. So what other trends can Pepsi mindlessly follow?
How about nostalgia? Last year Halifax shat on our childhoods by using Top Cat to sell mortgages. Top Cat lived in a bin.
So why not play on our nostalgia for better Pepsi ads in years gone by — ‘the choice of a new generation’ with our childhood heroes from Star Trek: the next generation.
It’d make great branded content. A one off episode in which the reunited crew of the Starship Enterprise battle the Coca-Cola entity. Look out for Captain Picard’s new signature beverage: “Pepsi. Cola. Ice cold.”
Good luck getting LeVar Burton involved though.
9. Some Apple 1984 rip-off
Some ads are so good they’re still fresh 30 years later. Apple’s 1984 commercial helped to define the brand.
So how about an ad set in a hellish, capitalist dystopia, where massed ranks of brainwashed idiots gather to pay homage to their corporate masters?
Oh, sorry, that’s the ad that Pepsi actually ran.
8. Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
One of the truly astonishing things about the Pepsi commercial is they made a cut of it that’s two and a half minutes long.
I’ve had a think about what else they could do with that time and I’ve come up with the following: absolutely nothing. Seriously, two and a half minutes of dead air would be an improvement on this.
One of the more laughable things about the Pepsi ad were the terrible fake placards — in a sea of Pepsi blue — exhorting people to “join the conversation”.
Presumably that Pepsi ad will never run again. So instead of replacing it with some other mindless guff, why don’t Pepsi keep all the air time they’ve bought and fill it with dead air, freeing us from the tyranny of advertising and enabling us to start conversations of our own — instead of “joining the conversation” started by some mindless fucking brand.
7. Just the logo
OK, so Pepsi probably won’t go for my dead air idea. After all, brands hate an unbranded ad.
That’s why pretty much everything in that spot, from the placards to the clothing, is awash with Pepsi blue. And it’s why we get that terrible ending — the packshot being thrust into the cop’s hands.
There’s an argument to be made that this ad might not have sucked so hard had it been unbranded.
Had it not been so relentlessly cynical in pushing Pepsi — literally — into people’s hands, there was the opportunity to really be part of a wider conversation about political change in America.
But of course, that’s not what brands like to do. They like, well, the smell of their own brand.
This ad was clearly designed to please the client, so why bother with the formality of a story? Just show the brand logo bouncing about on screen for two and a half minutes.
Client can jack off to it, nobody else is offended, ad blends into the background. Just like 99% of other advertising.
6. Max Headroom
Remember Max Headroom? He was big in the 80s. He was a VJ on MTV. He had his own show. He was also the face of New Coke.
Maybe it’s time for him to make a comeback.
New Coke was widely derided as the biggest soft-drink marketing fail of all time.
Pepsi — Hold my beer!
5. Pepe the frog
If we’re looking for brand spokespeople marginally less offensive than Kendall Jenner, how about the Alt-Right mascot Pepe the Frog?
Right now I’m struggling to think how choosing a meme known for its associations with Donald Trump, the KKK, and Nazi death camps could be a worse choice for Pepsi spokesperson than Kendall Jenner, a figure so empty and vacuous that only an equally vacuous brand could ever believe this white woman would be the right casting choice to lead a protest march clearly modelled on Black Lives Matter.
Seriously, Pepe the Frog would be a better spokesperson. You could even end the ad on a hard cut to Pepe opening up a can of delicious soft drink and winking at the audience with a VO/super: DR PEPE… SO MISUNDERSTOOD!
Pepsi marketing team, if you’re listening, you can have that one for free.
I’m guessing right now you need all the help you can get.
While we’re on the subject of the Alt-right, other scenes have been suggested on Twitter where a Pepsi might defuse a sticky situation like facing up to a riot cop. How about handing a Pepsi to a few SS officers on Kristallnacht, one wag cleverly declared.
Well it’s a good start, but frankly I don’t think it goes far enough. In this febrile political environment, everything from the President of the USA to the Antifa movement have been compared to Hitler. Let’s run with that.
In the Pepsi ad, Kendall Jenner rips off her wig and smudges her lipstick to show how she’s not an empty beauty queen but really a confident empowered woman. Bugger that. Imagine if she ripped off her wig and clever pouty disguise to reveal that underneath, she was actually Hitler.
Why stop there? Everyone in the ad rips off their blue clothes to reveal Stormtrooper uniforms. The break-dancers break out into goose steps. The entire cast of the ad joins in a chorus of ‘Springtime for Hitler’. It would be like the most epic rickroll of all time. Pepsi could pass it off as ironic commentary about the declining standards of political debate in our time.
3. Pissing contest
‘member the Pepsi Challenge? Well, let’s play on that nostalgia while calling it out for what it really is — an epic pissing contest between Pepsi and Coke.
Let’s recreate the Pepsi challenge by getting people to drink a gallon of the stuff and then see how far they can piss with it. Let’s go full on here. Tackle out, wangs waving in close up macro shots, filling our screen with HD slow mo shots of dicks gently pissing into camera.
2. 2.5 minutes of the Pepsi marketing team being slapped, repeatedly, hard, in the face
The Oxford English Dictionary defines contrition as ‘the state of feeling remorseful and penitent.’ Do I really need to spell this one out for you?
1. Epic troll
When I first saw the Pepsi ad, I assumed it was a late April Fools joke. Or an unsanctioned spec ad. Then I waited. Marketing people aren’t this dumb are they? Surely this was part of some bigger, smarter marketing campaign.
Surely the aim was to get us all talking about Pepsi, then while we’re all ramped up to fever pitch outrage, hit us with a real ad about social justice.
You know, maybe follow it up with two minutes of real interviews with actual victims of police brutality, followed by a simple, black and white still frame with #BlackLivesMatter and the tiniest logo at the end to show who paid for the commercial.
You know, something that would actually get people talking — something that would put the brand at the forefront of social issues while standing for something and actually starting conversations in people’s living rooms.
Nah. Let’s just co-opt the righteous political outrage of a generation into an ad to sell a load of sugary fizzy drink.