Pepsi Spot is Only Missing One Thing: An Idea

by Matthew Hallock , The Voice

Back in the old-fashioned times before the internet, I used to go to the Museum of TV & Radio in NYC and watch TV commercials on VHS. They have a vast archive there, including a tape with a compilation of Pepsi spots and its classic tag line, The Choice of A New Generation. Watching them all back-to-back surfaces the irony that there are several generations of commercials with the same line.

Fast forward to today, with the cringe-worthy spot featuring Kendall Jenner. 

Fake news: the dearly departed Pepsi chairman Roger Enrico is literally spinning in his grave. A cardinal rule in advertising is to remember what you’re selling. Pepsi is carbonated sugar water. The only reason Jenner is in the spot is the client and its in-house content studio — Creators League — wanted to spend a fortune and weeks in LA on a mutual back rub. Fathom the cost, with a celebrity, cast of hundreds, multiple sets, aerial photography…. It has everything — except an idea.

This is what advertising creative director John Peebles used to call “too clever by a half.” The staged protest with pretty people. The forced tagline: Live for Now. Pepsi has uprooted itself. Content is about the truth. Show clips of a REAL protest, like from recently in Russia. Or profile a legit Muslim photographer doing something honest, not some hottie in a hijab. They don’t have to return to The Choice of a New Generation, but it’s the job of the client and agency to recapture, then project, its DNA in a cool and memorable way.