I’ve dealt with and managed brand identities. Okay, so none of them are multinational. Hell most of them aren’t even multi-county. But the PR rules for activism are generally the same for everyone.
1) Don’t do dumb political things with your marketing.
2) If you’re political, be super safe and own it.
3) If you do dumb political things, apologize and then try and make it right.
4) Make it look like you’re taking a stand, but don’t stand on your head.
5) Don’t feed trolls.
6) Generally avoid jokes involving flatulence.
So when Pepsi dropped a silly semi-political (read: fake-political) ad this week, it had people scratching their heads. Then it brought outrage. Then people watched it again. Then there was more real and faux outrage. Then social piling happened. People started writing silly things like this. Then the attention went beyond business front pages, to headlining TMZ and trending on Twitter for a week.
“What were you thinking?!”
“How could you do this, my beloved bubbly sugary beverage?”
“Pepsi, you USED to be my girl!”
“Hey girl, U up?”
But there’s one thing that I can promise you about this whole saga. I WOULD LOVE to be on the receiving end of this Trump™ type brand attention.
*rubs hands together*
Oh I can’t wait to see the next page in this saga. They’ll let it play out for a minute. 500 million will watch the video. We’ll continue to talk about it with faux outrage and bewilderment. Then the waters will cool. People won’t even know what they’re doing and they’ll be drinking Pepsi by the 4th of July.
“Oh remember when Pepsi did that dumb ad?”
“Nope… Ooh fireworks!”
There were 100 dumb suits and skinny jeans wearing creatives who signed off on the dumb ad. They knew the backlash was coming. They knew it would be swift. They knew the ad had the emotional impact of watching the corn grow. And they KNEW we’d fall for it and even had the whole “play dumb” response ready.
This campaign is so damn manipulative. Here is every influencer on YouTube, Instagram, Snap, mainstream press, etc giving their opinion. It makes me want to both a) hate marketers and b) give them a hug.
Good Lord! This ad wasn’t aimed at young people or peace activists, or even cops! It was aimed at white women in the suburbs who are on Snapchat! It was aimed at people who love law enforcement, but still want to feel like drinking Pepsi makes them feel WOKE.
Are you joking?? They knew exactly what they were doing! The political backlash and piling on was/is perfect!
THEY. PLAYED. US.
So keep talking about it.
Enjoy the show.
And drink up, buttercup.