The Learning Center
AKA... The Blog
AKA... The Blog
Marketing campaigns that hit the mark can evoke strong emotions, be they positive or negative. Even a negative emotion can be used effectively to get a point across, but there is one important thing to remember in the perilous world of marketing: the ultimate goal is to sell a product. When viewers watch an ad, they know this. They know they are seeing advertising, and when marketers use advertising that parallels real, serious events, it can be hard for viewers to not see a company trying to cash in. The Pepsi commercial featuring Kendall Jenner, as Pepsi themselves would later say, missed the mark.
Here is the video, which Pepsi has pulled from their official Youtube Channel. It’s most likely only a matter of time before it gets pulled from other places as well. There is a link below that gives a breakdown of the ad if the video below is no longer working.
Tone-deaf is the best way to describe the ad. Pepsi doesn’t seem to be aware of the seriousness of what they’re portraying. The ad makes it look like protesting is a hip thing young people do for fun. People protest because they disagree with something. They are outraged, worried, or even scared. No one in the Pepsi ad looks like this.
Many have said the ad is reminiscent of the Black Lives Matter movement. Pepsi most likely did not mean for this to happen, but the fact that people are making that comparison is one of the main reasons why this ad failed. It looks like Pepsi is trying to capitalize on a serious issue in order to sell soda.
Tone-deaf ads are nothing new. Every year, companies experience backlash for posting a tone-deaf Facebook post, tweet, or––like Pepsi––a full blown commercial. Typically these are just social media failures, restricted to social platforms due to how easily it is to post something with little oversight. It is rarer to see tone-deaf ads like commercials because they typically have many eyes on them before they go live; however, it does happen.
Tone-deaf ads addressing major issues will always fail because they put the product on equal footing with the issue and make the company seem oblivious to the issue by simply using it to sell their product. Pepsi’s commercial resulted in a PR nightmare, one Pepsi won’t live down for some time. You can learn more about what companies can do to mitigate damage from PR nightmares such as these, here.