Pepsi Fails to Oppose Why the pepsi ad didn't connect

PepsiCola recently suffered an epic brand fail with their highly-lauded Kendall Jenner television ad. The ad failed to connect to Millennials who are known to favor brands who support popular social causes, it rang particularly hollow because the “protest” featured in the ad was protesting…nothing!

The problem isn’t Kendall Jenner or that Pepsi is attempting to appeal to the “next generation” of consumers since they have been using that strategy for decades. The real problem with the ad was that Pepsi was not honestly or openly embracing and endorsing a social cause - any social cause - and therefore opposed nothing. Fortune 500 brands very rarely endorse controversial movements out of reasonable fear that they may inadvertently alienate another consumer group by taking a side. Worse than that, in the case of Pepsi is not taking a side at all by not specifying any social cause whatsoever!

Social movements are a cornerstone of any minority group who is feeling exploited by the mainstream culture.

Women marching for equal voting rights in the early 20th century.

Women’s Suffrage movement started in the mid-19th century and lasted for the next 50 years as women fought fiercely to vote and to sustain minimum levels of rights of women to work. Women’s Suffrage can be traced to modern feminism movements wherein women’s rights have been expanded to reproductive rights and equal pay in the workplace. This is also true of other historical social movements such as the African-American Civil Rights movement in the 1960s and more recently with Black Lives Matter and Occupy Wall Street.

Martin Luther, Social Activist

The most well-known and arguably most successful social movement of all time was Martin Luther’s 95 Theses which he prominently nailed to the door of the Whittenberg Castle Church in 1517. The Protestant Reformation which subsequently took root in Western Europe changed the complexion of Christianity worldwide, leaving lasting changes in our culture henceforth.

If PepsiCola existed in 1517, is it likely that the company would have contracted Martin Luther to be the Kendall Jenner of his time to offer a Pepsi to a Cardinal Thomas Cajetan in a moment of solidarity and therefore forging a lasting truce between Protestants and Catholics? Maybe.

If Pepsi had, at least it would have had cultural significance demonstrating an understanding of the pivotal historical pertinence of the break in the Holy Church and how desperate parties can be united through kind and simple gestures. We will never know.

The point is that Pepsi failed to capture this most pertinent time in history. Like the late 1960s before, we are in a turbulent period where a new generation of idealists are challenging what they see as the societal status quo. Pepsi could have, if not should have taken this opportunity to demonstrate their appreciation and respect for social causes of our times and using their product as a symbol of unity and mutual respect - that didn’t happen. The adage is that if you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything. This appears to be the case with Pepsi. The company filed to stand for social movements and has fallen hard in public opinion.


Created with images by juliejordanscott - "suffragettes carrying arrows to proudly display prison status" • Cea. - "[ P ] Georg Pencz - Portrait of Martin Luther (1533)"

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