In our last article, we talk about Schiau studios and their use of publicity stunts to gain promotion for their app and generate sales. There’s an old adage in PR that says "any press is good press".
Or is it?
Take Pepsi for example. Pepsi’s energy drink Amp takes an approach to marketing that is reminiscent of Axe Deodorant in its hayday. Targeted primarily to men, er, "guys", their marketing message is full of extreme sports, hot girls, and rock music. The target demographic that this appeals to is a younger male audience, mid teens to early 20′s still living in a hormone driven haze where "hooking up" with the opposite sex ranks high on their daily priority list.
Um… is that one on the right a guy with a wig on?
Enter the iPhone.
As the newest and if I might say, sexiest way to get your brand message out these days, it’s no surprise that Pepsi and Amp decided to jump on the bandwagon and launch an app of their own. Grab the creative agency, brainstorm around the table for a few hours while hyped up on their own product, and the "Amp Up Before You Score" app is born.
The Premise: an app to help you hook up, complete with pickup lines and a how-to guide.
The Execution: Not only did Pepsi create an app that asks you to sterotype women into one of 24 categories including but not limited to "Cougar", "Princess" and, um… "Married" (lets hear it for Pepsi family values… I’d like to also mention that PepsiCo’s mission statement includes the following line: "in everything we do, we strive for honesty, fairness and integrity."). The app then gives you a handy way to keep track of all the women you have ‘scored’ with and finally, my favorite… a way to brag about it to your buddies. In fact – the social mavens that they are – you can brag about it via Twitter, Facebook or Email! Now the whole world can know how misogynist you really are.
While I disagree with the execution – I understand that they are trying to speak to a very specific target that will frankly get the albiet misguided humor in this. The problem comes when we look at the target they are trying to reach, and the demographics of the typical iPhone user. They started out right – 75% of iPhone users are male, however according to Neilson, only 13% of users fall into Amp’s prime target age of 18-24. You can boost the percentage to 18% if you drop the age as low as 13. Add to that a society that is highly charged with conservative religous values, and you have a PR disaster on your hands.
Calls have been coming in from all sides that Pepsi should pull what is being called "offensive", "sexist" and
Amp’s twitter site on October 12th posted this appology: "Our app tried 2 show the humorous lengths guys go 2 pick up women. We apologize if it’s in bad taste & appreciate your feedback. #pepsifail"
The creation of this hashtag on Twiter has created a forum for tweeters to sound off about the app – both in the positive and the negative…. and it seems like consumers either love it or hate it.
I would have to say it was on purpose. Why? Because the app is still live in the app store. Who apologizes in earnest and then keeps doing what they were apologizing for?