If anybody had doubts that “customer is the king” PepsiCo, whose global turnover equals the GDP of many mid-sized developing countries, has decided to respect that motto and pull out its latest ad themed “Live for Now Moments Anthem,” which stirred a huge controversy. Importantly, this was a timely course correction before the damage to Pepsi’s reputation could take a serious and unnecessary turn.
A statement issued by the brand clarified that, “Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding. Clearly we missed the mark, and we apologize. We did not intend to make light of any serious issue. We are removing the content and halting any further roll-out. We also apologize for putting Kendall Jenner in this position.”
This two-and-a-half minute ad was created by Pepsi’s in-house design team, Creators League Studio and it was released toward the end of last month. It wasn’t long before the digital media picked it up and Pepsi began facing a relentless blitz of adverse criticism for releasing this ad. The ad tried to leverage the present environment of discontent across the country against the government, showing Hollywood icon Kendall Jenner getting mixed up with protestors. Most people felt the ad was in poor taste as they thought Pepsi was trying to ride piggyback on protest movements of marginalized people.
Pepsi ad campaign was seen by many as ‘trivializing’ the protest movement with an own value proposition that most people thought was in poor taste. The protest movements are trying to convey a serious message to the government and for those participating in the demonstrations across the country such ads are all but sensitive. PepsiCo didn’t clarify anything more than the apology note and neither is there any information about what this huge embarrassment would mean for Creators League Studio’s future.