What Marketers Should Learn From Pepsi’s Commercial Fiasco

Photo credit: Business2Community

By now, anyone and everyone knows about the recent Pepsi advertisement featuring Kendall Jenner offering an officer a Pepsi in peaceful negotiation. The commercial immediately caused outage amongst many, and Pepsi pulling the ad the same day it was posted. Pepsi, like so many other heavy hitting consumer companies, is trying to engage with its target market through current events. Unfortunately, Pepsi’s commercial has now become a “what not to do” example for other marketing and advertising agencies to follow.

In an effort to try and connect with its audience by riding of the coattails of the current political environment, here are three lessons that other marketers can learn from the Pepsi fiasco.

Don’t Be Opportunistic

Many brands and marketer’s messages fall flat or are considered offensive when brands capitalize on a movement to promote and sell products, as opposed to supporting a movement’s cause. Brands tote a very fine line between supporting a movement that’s important to their target audience and exploiting current events for personal gain.

Messaging is Key

Market research is essential anytime a company is crafting a message and this is particularly important when tying a brand to a current event. Brands must make sure the messaging compliments a movement’s needs and actions, and these questions can help guide you on the right track:

  1. Does your message’s tone match the tone of the movement?
  2. Does the voice of your advertisement match the true feelings of those that have experienced violence or oppression? 
  3. Is your brand trying to newsjack a current event that is loosely related (or not at all related) to your product/service?
  4. Is this current event or movement important to your target audience or your company culture?

Look for Outside Perspectives

One the best ways to avoid rubbing consumers the wrong way is seeking or consulting outside opinions and perspectives. If brands are going to engage in cause-based marketing, the main focus should be on helping people share their stories and get the word out about an injustice, current event, or movement. Steven Tulman uses Ford as an excellent an excellent example of brand that used their reach to connect with a cause through their work with WE Charities in this Business2Community blog post.

In today’s world, social media platforms dominate the marketing scene so brands must be extra attentive in how the deliver their message. If done right with a well thought out plan and researched messaging strategy, marketers can produce positive effects and help to solidify a brand’s position as a positive change-maker.