Time for our look at the PR Heroes and Villains of the past week and we found Pepsi’s latest ad left a sour taste in the mouth.

PR heroes: Snapchat

April Fool’s Day can often feel like drawn out affair when it comes to PR stunts, but luckily Snapchat managed to provide a genuinely funny joke for us.

In response to Instagrams seemingly like-for-like copying of Snapchat’s story mode feature, they decided to have a friendly pop at their social media competitors by creating their own Instagram filter.

The filter gave any photos taken on Snapchat a classic Instagram frame, including a comment section filled with Emojis and a like from an Instagram user called ‘My_Mom’, which is thought to be a dig at Instagram’s older demographic.

The idea will have been in no small part a light-hearted retaliation to both Instagram and Facebook’s carbon copying of certain Snapchat features that make the photo-sharing app so popular.

It turned what would have been an opportunity to post a standardly far-fetched April Fool’s Day joke into a positive piece of PR, that showcased the individuality of Snapchat’s features, whilst highlighting other social media platforms necessity to stay relevant by copying them.

PR villains: Pepsi

Such has been the public outcry; it’s surely impossible to have missed Pepsi’s car crash of a politically motivated TV commercial.

Pepsi have received fierce criticism and ridicule for appearing to be co-opting protest movements in the name of profit, as well as appropriating the Black Lives Matter movement.

The advert, featuring reality star and model Kendall Jenner, involves people of all ethnicities coming together to protest, however these ‘protests’ are characterised by signing, dancing and signs that read ‘love’, which many have pointed out is a far cry from the reality of protesting.

Jenner then approaches a line of riot police to give one of them a can of Pepsi as a ‘peace offering’.

The advert has drawn huge levels of criticism for trivialising protest movements across the U.S, with social media once again being the foremost voice of anger against the soft drink giants.

To make matters worse the video was first published on April 4, the 49th anniversary of the assassination of Dr Martin Luther King.

Negative reaction to the ad has been so severe that it was pulled a day after being launched, and Pepsi have been since issued an apology stating, “Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, piece and understanding. Clearly we missed the mark…” as well apologising to Kendall Jenner for putting her in a bad position.

It later transpired that the ad had come from Pepsi’s in house marketing team rather than from an external agency. Perhaps the in-house team were too close to the brand and naturally overstated it’s importance in the world. Using an external agency helps brands to have an authentic voice by bringing external perspective to a company’s communication strategy.

Even the apology was flawed with Pepsi seemingly more concerned with apologising to Ms Jenner than to the millions of soft drink consumers who may have taken offence at their insensitive advert.

Whatever the fallout form the campaign; it will surely go down as one of the great PR blunders of 2017.


© London PR 2017