Article

Victoria Ward
Victoria Ward 7 April 2017

What Can We Learn from Pepsi?

It is no doubt that Pepsi’s latest commercial ‘Live for Now’ has attracted great attention, but not for the right reasons. Here we look at what we can learn from Pepsi.

It is no doubt that Pepsi’s latest commercial ‘Live for Now’ has attracted great attention, but not for the right reasons. The campaign has stirred up major backlash and drew criticism almost immediately for being disingenuous and trivializing the Black Lives Matter movement. 

While some have taken the advert seriously, others have used humour with memes.

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Although there was a few which liked the advert, the inescapable backlashes kept on coming which resulted to Pepsi making the decision to pull its controversial Kendall Jenner ad. 

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"Pepsi seems to have managed the retraction and apology quite well. Most importantly Pepsi was swift and decisive in its response to the feedback," says David Meikle, who founded marketing consultancy Salt.

The real test will come when the brand launches its next campaign though, and Pepsi will need to tread carefully for that.

So what can we learn from Pepsi’s mistakes?

Social movements –Although social movements can be a sensitive area, corporations have a long history of trying to cash in on countercultural movements. Consumers are making buying decisions based on a preference for doing business with brands that demonstrate an authentic involvement in supporting our communities and our world. If a brand does it right, there’s good money to be made.

Take the example of Apple who provided rainbow-branded T-shirts for the 8,000 members of its staff who marched at San Francisco’s Pride march. Apple are sharing their values and not selling this, which is where Pepsi failed massively. We do not improve society by improving its depiction in soft-drink ads.

If you are planning to capture social movements in your advert, the key thing is to have a genuine sense of motivation behind the project. Too many brands think they can have a movement that sells the products, and that’s the wrong way to approach it.

Your target audience – brands need to understand what is going on in a bigger picture, including their target audience views on this. As customers are more cynical nowadays, brands should never make light of social issues that relate to people’s suffering; they should, instead, focus on selling their products in ways that don’t exploit people.

Pepsi’s target market has always been young adults which covers millennials. If you are going to market to millennials, remember that you’re going into an open forum. This is not a one-way conversation as this generation engages and give their opinions especially if an advert is shown to be patronising.

Although Pepsi have attempted to align themselves with the market, this obviously hasn’t been perceived well.

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