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How Kendall Jenner caused millions in losses for Pepsi with a single advertisement

Kendall Jenner Pepsi Commercial (2017)

This tone-deaf advertisement features model Kendall Jenner as the leader of a group of protestors, who awkwardly mirror the Black Lives Matter movement. The climactic scene of the ad depicts a police officer, who accepts a can of soda from Kendall Jenner. As a result, model-beauty protesters cheer as they receive the camera-ready grin of gratitude from an unarmed officer. If only things worked that way...

Social Media users became enraged, accusing Pepsi of appropriation in order to sell their product. Commenters shared that Pepsi belittled the real danger protesters face, as well as the frustration that they feel.

This advertisement was produced by an in-house studio "Creators League Studio." Instead of working with ad agencies, Brad Jakeman (PepsiCo’s president) decided to reject the traditional approach to advertising. Jakeman aimed to reduce time to create an advertising campaign as well as costs. Greedy, as we know, pays twice, Pepsi had no other choice but to pull the 5+ million dollar ad and issue a groveling apology later on.

Pepsi's in-house content creation arm was not able to properly assess external perspectives, they were in such a hurry that they didn't vet the ad for controversies. This proves once more that marketing research is critical.

Dove's "Bottlegate" (2017)

2017 seems to be the worst year for advertising efforts. Dove is a Unilever-owned personal care brand that is ranked 10th most valuable by Brand Finance. Dove has established itself as a company dedicated to the purpose of supporting and celebrating women. Their website reads "Beauty is not defined by shape, size, or color — it’s feeling like the best version of yourself. Authentic. Unique. Real."

Dove's "Real Beauty" campaign was created in 2004, backed by research, it reveals that out of 3,200 women aged 18-64 only 2% viewed themselves as beautiful. Their strategy was to make women feel comfortable with themselves, so instead of displaying professional models for their ads, Dove hired ordinary women.

All goes well until the moment it doesn't...

Dove launched the limited-edition bottle packaging. Bottles were intended to communicate ideas of body positivity, as they resembled six common body types among women. Dove's limited edition bottle packaging was trying to convey messages of "diversity," and that their bottles can "come in all shapes and sizes... just like women."

The public was baffled, they wondered why the same company that promoted the importance of "real beauty" was now reminding them of their body shape. Dove's biggest mistake was that they unintentionally roused self-consciousness instead of inspiring body-positivity as they did in previous years.

The Skittles "Midas Touch" Advertisement (2007)

Tim is a kind-looking older gentleman, he works the desk at a generic-looking video shop. He is suddenly approached by his colleague, who urges him to reveal his "special" talent to Joel. At this point, the audience expects something quirky and laughable, yet simple. Instead, the viewers are faced with deadpan dark humor, which is an uncommon tendency for when advertising candies. It is revealed that everything Tim touches turns into Skittles.

Joel expresses in excitement "That's awesome!" To which Tim replies "Is it awesome?... That you can't hold your newborn baby boy in your arms?" This provokes the viewer to actually feel sorry for Tim and his "talent," To further the notion of Tim's tragic ability he shares that he has taken a man's life by accepting an innocent handshake on a bus ride this morning.

Tim opens his palm as the skittle remains of that same man begin to pour onto the desk in front of him "He will never see his family again."

Director Craig Allen and Copywriter Eric Kallman explain that their reasoning for creating such an ad was to put skittles into a "fresh" and "sad" spot at the same time. Their aim was to keep skittles' reputation for being bizarre and outgoing. I am sure that they have achieved what they wanted, although at the cost of some sensitive viewer's mental well-being.


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