This week’s episode of ‘what were they thinking’ has a new segment called ‘who the hell approved this?’

This post is basically the opposite of my Advert of the Week posts.

I can only imagine the tense nature of the global Pepsi office this week. I was actually interviewed for a job as a brand manager at Pepsi in Sydney before I accepted my current role. Today is a day I feel grateful that I didn’t take that job.

‘Live for Now’ is the tagline that Pepsi have been pushing for a while now (roughly 5 years), but I think they have just brought it to an end themselves. Their brand team needs to face the fact that all the hard work they’ve done developing ‘live for now’ is (probably forever) tainted by this one ad.

If you’ve not seen it (impossible surely!), it’s here:

Can I just say that before you even get into the terrible concept, the execution is bad too. It’s 2:40 minutes long, and the first 2 minutes are really boring and kind of pointless. Just bad. That’s poor ad creative. Even I know that you have about 3 seconds to capture attention, and you’ve got to follow it with something good to hold that precious attention, and I’ve only been in marketing a couple of years. Hell, even teenagers know this.

They probably wanted to create content, and lots of clips and stills they could use later, but they’ve just sacrificed the quality of the ad for that. Also it would be bad content.

The second thing is that they have obviously tried so hard to make the ad diverse. It’s kind of obtusely diverse – yet still stars a young, upper class, white girl. Come on.

Whoever made this (it was actually Pepsi’s internal creative agency) was obviously way too close to the project to see the glaring terrible-ness of the ad. Did they even put it into testing?! You can be sure they’ll test to death anything else from now on.

I’m not going to get into the politics or the fact that they trivialised any protest that has ever happened. I just wanted to say ‘who the hell approved this?’. From someone who works in an ad agency, I just cannot fathom how many layers of approvals a global marketing campaign like this had to go through. And every single person thought ‘Yeah, this is appropriate for television in 100+ countries. Excellent work.’

If you’re a glass half-full kind of person you might think, well they probably never got this much publicity for something before so at least that’s a plus. Yeah, nah. Don’t believe the hype that any publicity is good publicity. Just ask Chipotle. Businesses can really suffer on this kind of stuff. Pepsi have paid MILLIONS (probably) to essentially be torn to pieces by its own consumers.

In a vast contrast to the Pepsi office, the Coke office must be gleeful.

Pepsi aren’t the only ones who I want to shake by the shoulders this week.

Nivea racism

‘White is purity’?! You’ve got to be fucking kidding me. This came from Nivea Germany so I’m hoping it’s just a terrible case of lost in translation. Someone should have caught this though.

The bottom line is, these brands don’t have ill intentions. Just bad approval systems and a lack of market testing.

It has birthed some glorious memes though, and for that, we will be glad.

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