Long Live Pepsi
Last week Pepsi entered the limelight for the first time in 10 years because of the biggest mistake they’ve ever made. They released a video commercial starring Kendall Jenner, wanting to support global peace, and even though there was a lot of backlash and clamor over being “tone deaf”, what’s interesting, is that their goal to unite the world and create positive brand affinity may have actually worked.
A report from Brand Watch shows there was an overall 20,000%+ increase in mentions last week for Pepsi, granted much sentiment was negative, overall the resulting conversation is a HUGE positive. April 4th saw more than 427,000 mentions of Pepsi on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram with April 5th accumulating another 1.25 million mentions. Their stock even surged for a moment, until they took down the ad and issued an apology.
What Pepsi traded in was negative sentiment for more conversation. When you look at the content being made on the internet, everyone is talking about Pepsi, and it’s become so far the joke of the year, but an endearing one. The greatest memes depict Pepsi being used and represented in tense situations, as the savior to their problems and while super comical, no one’s doing that for Coke are they? And speaking of, sure, many people may be drinking Coke the rest of the lives now in actual protest, but on the flipside more people are likely to grab a Pepsi to be funny, and because of what it jokingly symbolizes.
Throughout the week most major publications and late night hosts from Stephen Colbert to SNL took to joking about the commercial. Also, this week, people were actually using Pepsi in real life protest. Supposedly Pepsi has garnered $300 million and $400 million in free media coverage out of the controversy.
These days, brands have to do something to get people’s attention. As long as you’re making someone feel an emotion, even if its frustration you’re doing something to get that attention, and we are an attention based economy. This stunt almost feels something out of the playbook of best selling author Ryan Holiday, who could only dream of creating something like this for a major brand. Ryan is known for his book “Trust me I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator” where he outlines how he intentionally uses negative campaigns and subversive press to bad mouth a product he’s representing in order for people to start talking about it and ultimately engage with it.
This short of shock value marketing is used today by even our president.
Now, in no way are we saying that the video content was “good” but what we are saying is that Pepsi should own the bad and not run away from it. This conversation is good for their business. Imagine if Pepsi & Kendall instead of saying sorry, just owned it. It would have likely amplified the conversation even more. This is all something to consider for your own brand when wondering how to market your products if “nothing seems to work”. Stay woke and do something that makes people feel something.