Posted October 15, 2009 7:59 am by with 11 comments

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Poopsi Wacky PackageIn the latest round of social media’s own “You make the call!” game regarding a social media campaign’s failure or genius enter Pepsi and its Amp Energy brand. There appears to be some buzz in social media circles about an iPhone app that Pepsi developed for the drink that is being called crass by some and ‘just entertainment’ by others. So you know, I could care less either way, I just think it makes for an interesting ‘live’ case study about social media and how it can be viewed, and as a result, manipulated.

Before I get going I want to say that the ‘buzz’ around this iPhone app dilemma is probably not nearly as big as we in the social media industry are going to make it out to be. Oh we will beat it to death but the actual influence of any of this beyond the industry is another topic of debate for another day. Having said that and drawn the ire of some social media types we can now move on.

AdAge reported yesterday that Pepsi had developed and distributed and app around its Amp Energy brand.

The app, “Amp Up Before You Score,” offers guys pickup lines and background info for 24 different types of women, ranging from “military chick” and “political girl” to “married” and “sorority girl.” The app pulls in information from Wikipedia on the punk movement for a girl who’s into punk rock, and offers suggestions and directions to vegan restaurants if you’ve got a “treehugger” on your hands. The free app was built by Interpublic Group of Cos. digital agency R/GA.

Patently offensive? To some. Funny? To others. So this is no different than anything else in the world since we all have the choice to engage or not with this type of marketing. Well, apparently there has been enough ‘backlash’ (I use this term with caution because I am a firm believer that Pepsi is getting the exact mileage that they wanted from this) to have Pepsi consider and execute a Twitter-culpa (that’s a mea culpa in the “Land that Biz Built”) using the hashtag ‘#pepsifail’.

If you search Twitter for the hashtag you get a mish-mash of results including quite a few German Twitterers and I can’t tell if they are angry or not.

Pepsi Fail JPEG

So as not to give the brand any more free publicity for this let’s just say that Pepsi and its PR folks have ‘dragged’ in other brands like Mountain Dew and attached them to the ‘#pepsifail’ deal. So there is debate as to the wisdom of this as it relates to Pepsi as a whole blah, blah, blah, blah.

Here’s the bottom line. It is likely that mostly social media junkies care about this or even know about this at all. Social media folks like energy drinks. How else do you stay up all hours of the night and day digesting this stuff? As a result, some of them might actually consider Amp over their Red Bull or whatever. The downloads of the app went from 150 or so to about 17,000 in a matter of days. Is that because all of a sudden iPhone users who love Amp found this out? Not likely. It’s more like there are social media folks who downloaded the app to see what the hubbub was and are now aware of the brand. Hook, line and sinker. Well, done Pepsi.

Let’s face it, if they were really concerned they would pull the app from the AppStore right? Well, they have gone so far as to say that they have no intention of doing that. Are they making a stand so that the frat boy crowd of America can have their apps or are they just waiting for more coverage like this to create more downloads? You do the math make the call.

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  • I am more inclined to call it ‘blunder’. One does not need to be sexist, patronizing or homophobic to promote any brand. No excuses.
    .-= Oscar Del Santo´s last blog ..Blog Action Day 09 =-.

    • @Oscar – Fair enough. While I share similar views, I am not in the position to judge others who are taking advantage of an existing market condition. That’s why I wonder what will happen as we move forward and there develops a mentality of being to capitalize on the less savory traits of humanity. It’s going to happen. Thankfully the Internet is as close to a democracy as you can get since we do have the power to choose whether to participate or not.

      As for covering it as ‘news’ ….. gotta do what ya gotta do on that one.
      .-= Frank Reed´s last blog ..Sales and Business Development Re-Thought =-.

      • Absolutely Frank. Yes, there will always be those who will capitalize on the worse side of human nature, and they may even succeed and prosper at that. It is happening amongst us as we speak as you rightly claim.

        That does not mean that the rest of us have to look on and keep quiet while this sad state of affairs goes on. I believe we have the right to protest and make our more enlightened views heard. It may all seem rather inocuous but the fact is that this sort of advertising hurts individuals and communities – especially those who belong to minority groups. And it is plain unnecessary to depict and objectify women in this fashion for commercial gain. One can always be funny and humorous in style!

        Once more, as far as I am concerned, the Pepsi Apps campaign was sorely misguided and in very poor taste indeed. On the other hand, I am actually glad that you have covered it as news and raised the issue so that public debate is stimulated. Thanks for that!
        .-= Oscar Del Santo´s last blog ..Blog Action Day 09 =-.

  • I think they were trying to appeal to the type of guy who thinks the Axe Body Spray ads are funny.
    .-= Dan London´s last blog ..Does Your SEO Company Care About Your Business…Or Theirs? =-.

    • @Dan – The source articles for the post both mentioned that group as well. The difference being that the Axe ads were pretty caricatur-ish and over the top but this app bordered on the mere offensive. I still think that they have worked us all and got the social media crowd to do their work for them. Working on the concept over at Frank Thinking right now.
      .-= Frank Reed´s last blog ..Sales and Business Development Re-Thought =-.

  • @Citycat retweets “Der Standard” (@webstandardat) a big austrian Newspaper which says:

    >>Tasteless [in the meaning of mediocre] advertising stunt: Pepsi disgusts with sexist Iphone-App<<
    .-= Volker h. Davids´s last blog ..Wenn man schon twittert, dann doch bitte gleich richtig =-.

  • Social media is alway brilliance. Do you have any doubt regarding that ?

  • Sometimes any publicity is not good publicity but in this case it was. This seemed more as a joke than to do any actual harm. I think it did what it was supposed to do, create publicity and get a laugh for Pepsi.

  • “”think they were trying to appeal to the type of guy who thinks the Axe Body Spray ads are funny”” yes this post.

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