Pepsi and Kendall: Ignoring influencer marketing 101

The Kendall Jenner/Pepsi debacle highlighted how quickly the public responds to faux marketing. The audience backlash to the advert elicited an almost instant apology from Pepsi, saying: “Clearly we missed the mark, and we apologise. We did not intend to make light of any serious issue. We are removing the content and halting any further rollout.”

The abject failure of the Pepsi ad, called ‘The Live for Now Anthem’, reminded us of some of the cardinal rules of Influencer Marketing, which, in the latest flurry ‘anthemic’ advertising seems to have been overlooked. We need to choose our brand allegiance carefully and advertise honourably.

Right ‘man’ for the job

Some big brands are starting up in-house ad agencies and PepsiCo is one of them. Marketing Week reports their president Brad Jakeman formed a new in-house content creation arm because they were, “Sick and tired of the complicated structure that working with ad agencies created. There is no infrastructure to advertisers to be able to quickly produce that content.” However, as we see from Pepsi’s epic campaign failure, keeping things in-house runs the risk of the business being blinded by your own brand, with an external agency there is more likelihood of perspective.

Influencer brand fit

Kendall Jenner handing out a Pepsi and bringing a political march to a standstill: What’s wrong with this picture? She’s a supermodel not an activist, a celebrity not a social change maker. Sure, Jenner’s huge social media reach meant the ad went viral, but for all the wrong reasons. Another mind boggling Influencer disaster recently was The Fife Festival where celebrities promised “Extravagant beachside benders” and people, “Flocked to the Bahamas only to find feral dogs, luggage gone AWOL, and accommodations resembling FEMA camps.” Shocking and potentially brand destroying.

Choose brand allegiance wisely

The cause with which you choose to align your brand needs to fit your brand values. As Mark Duffy writes in his scathing article for DigiDay: “Now that Pepsi has defused social unrest, what are you waiting for, on-the-sidelines brands? If you’re not addressing an issue or cause with your advertising, then who needs ya?” He goes on to mock brands like Heineken for seemingly ending prejudice in their #OpenYourWorld four minute ad. Wouldn’t it be better to genuinely give back and make a difference? It certainly would to your customer, your sales and your reputation.

Article Written by Sheila McGillivray of The Media Online