Fizzy Fiasco

When creating a YouTube ad campaign a viral result is exactly what you want- and within 24 hours the Pepsi campaign ‘Live For Now’ certainly did go viral. It was first uploaded to the extremely popular social media platform, YouTube on Pepsi’s channel for their consumers to watch and view, and due to the platforms easy share-ability (Cassidy, 2017c), it was in conversations across the world in just a few hours. Pepsi, known for its fizzy drinks and red white and blue American symbolisation, was making headlines around the world! However, it was not in a good way- at all.

If you have not seen the Pepsi advertisement, then to fully understand what will be said throughout this article I recommend you watch it here. It must be said, however, that this is not the original ad that was posted by Pepsi but merely another YouTube user has downloaded it and uploaded the ad to their own account so that it can still be viewed. The reason this is not the original advertisement is that Pepsi, once the backlash was growing in a snowball effect, deleted the campaign and issued a public apology.


Source: Pepsi’s apology for Ad Campaign

The ad started off with a can of Pepsi being opened and then after a while, the ad turned down to the streets where a protest formed by a diverse group of individuals, was being shown with no clear message portrayed other than ‘love’ or ‘join the conversation’. The ad has had backlash from a wide range of celebrities and people alike for making light of a very serious movement for people who are crying for their voices to be heard, i.e. making light of protests. The protest, even featured a ‘dance and music performance’ which was not well received. Click here to see a video of Celebrity tweets sparked by Kendall Jenner and the Pepsi ad.

The ad also featured popular Kardashian family member Kendall Jenner, who during the ad, was in a photo shoot that she was convinced out of by a man in the protest ushering her to join. She makes her way through the crowd to the very front- grabs a Pepsi and walks towards the line of police officers where she offers one of them a Pepsi, the police officer takes the drink and has a sip where the crowd erupted in a victory cheer. However, there was definitely no victory for Pepsi once this ad was released.

nelson mandela daughter

Source: Tweet made by Bernice King, youngest daughter of  Martin Luther King Jnr.


There were some key issues and factors that led to this horrifically offensive social media fail. Pepsi was trying to entertain users through being relational (Cassidy, 2017a). Now I am like every average social media user, sometimes there are those videos that tug at your heartstrings that make you want to do something, such as the Imagine the Possibilities campaign by Barbie, but Pepsi missed this mark. What a lot of advertisement campaigns don’t realise is that they still must use the rules of good marketing (Cassidy, 2017c). When looking at the campaign equation and the successful features of a campaign, creative design + technical design + user experience = campaign (Cassidy, 2017c)- Pepsi although actually had a really good technical design with the actual filming, creation and quality of the ad itself, however the creative design of the message missed the mark, along with the user experience which just left consumers angry and insulted which resulted in the failed campaign.

Another reason why the social media campaign was a fail was the fact that it was uploaded to YouTube. Now don’t get me wrong, I love ads released on YouTube however the internet being the internet, once digital footprint is there- you can’t take it back because everything done on the internet generates data (Cassidy, 2017b). For example, an activity that we completed in our tutorial was that we had five minutes to research the person sitting next to us and what we could find. A lot of the people in the class were shocked that certain photos and statuses were still online even when they had thought they deleted them. Shelley Moore (2012) states, “that once digitized, such information is virtually irretrievable” However probably the most damaging issue for their campaign was one of the last frames in the advertisements towards the end, the scene where Kendall Jenner hands the police officer a Pepsi. Now with no background information, this could be taken as a harmless ‘peace offering’ within the advertisement, however, this was not the case. Whether intentional or not, Pepsi re-created a pivotal photo within the black lives matter protest where a woman stood in front of a line of riot police, she was jailed shortly after the photo, that spun around the globe, was captured.

black lives amtter

Source: Photo comparison of Kendall Jenner and Leisha Evans, a protester at the Baton Rouge last year.


When I look at this ad I think of all the things I would have done differently, if I were in charge of their social media strategy, as there would have been a few things I would do. Before I begin talking about how I would have dealt with their post ad release I am going to discuss what I would have done prior to release. Firstly, a clear strategy has to be set for the ad, as every touch point has to enrich your relationship with the consumer (Cassidy, 2017c). For example, an ad strategy that would have seriously benefited Pepsi’s campaign would be initialising focus groups that would react to the advertisement or create a ‘test and learn matrix’. Just by strategising to do a focus group, this would have prepared Pepsi for potential backlash and using research and data analysis is very important within social media posting (Cassidy, 2017c).



Source: This, although a response framework created in the event of Rogue Hosts, is an example of a response framework to follow if an unfortunate event occurs.


Or if the brand were to create a test and learn matrix and have consumers choose which elicits a better response, then record results for future knowledge, this would include consumers whilst improving the chance of a successful campaign (Cassidy, 2017c). Secondly creating a response framework in advance. By creating a framework of what to do if things went south, gives the brand a stronger chance of coming out of the rough without tainting their brand image. For example, if a restaurant business were to have a response framework for any negative reviews, like possibly ‘thank them for feedback, apologise, try and make it up to angered consumers and personalise the message, then also have key stakeholders sign off on it. This gives the brand a way to survive the negative review whilst still possibly bringing the view of the brand up in the process.

If however, this campaign were released and I were in charge of the social media strategy, I would use the crisis management basis of acknowledging the fault whilst responding with complete transparency so that consumers feel they are being spoken to honestly, and I would speak specifically as to not look like I am avoiding the fault. I would repetitively be apologetic as I, as the social media strategist would, be at fault. I would then talk to the brand and set up steps to prevent future repetition, such as the afore-discussed response frameworks, research focus groups, and/or create a test and learn matrix for future campaigns.

The response that Pepsi elicited was quite good in relation to their apology, however, more transparency and specificity would have built their brand up more. It will be a long journey for Pepsi to try and un-tarnish their smeared brand. However, as much of a fail as this is, there have been worse social media fails that brands have turned around. So, good luck Pepsi, you might be needing it.

Word Count: 1257

Reference List:

Cassidy, E. (2017a). KCB206 Social Media Self and Society: Week 5 [PowerPoint notes]. Retrieved from

Cassidy, E. (2017b). KCB206 Social Media Self and Society: Week 7 [PowerPoint notes]. Retrieved from

Cassidy, E. (2017c). KCB206 Social Media Self and Society: Week 8 [PowerPoint notes]. Retrieved from

Clevver News. (2017, April 5). Clevver News – Celebs REACT To Kendall Jenner’s Controversial Pepsi Commercial [Video file]. Retrieved from

Kendall and Kylie. (2017, April 4). Kendall and Kylie – Kendall Jenner for PEPSI Commercial [Video file]. Retrieved from

Moore, S. C. (2012). Digital footprints on the internet. International Journal of Childbirth Education, 27(3), 86. Retrieved from|A302298512&v=2.1&it=r&sid=summon&authCount=1


Are Marketers on the Way Out?

The media world is always changing and evolving, so much so that if I were to list all the ‘new’ latest ways media technologies are advancing and developing, the list would be considered old by the time I was finished (Flew 2014, 2). I am studying a bachelor of marketing and am currently interning at a marketing firm. Both of these factors has led me to find out what has changed in a marketer’s job since the creation of social media.


Reflecting back to before I first started studying social media, self, and society, my definition of social media was sorely wrong. I believed that social media was only networking sites like Facebook or twitter. However, social media are assemblages like artifacts, practices and social arrangements (Cassidy, 2017a), even though most people believe the same as I did, that the platforms are all there is. Furthermore, there are actually multiple social media ‘ecosystems’ like social networking sites, user-generated sites, trading and marketing sites and play and game sites and more (Cassidy, 2017a). There are multiple different areas where social media has affected marketing but there are three different aspects, in particular, I want to know more about as to how social media has changed them. After discussing these three aspects, I will go into some recommendations that I see fit for marketing agents, found from these findings. The first aspect that I am intrigued in is how the ‘Mediapolis’ lifestyle has changed marketing. This will lead to the next change being, how empowered new media audiences are affecting marketers in their job. Lastly discussing how marketers are now able to use new affordances to market to the audiences, due to social media.

Have you ever watched those movies where the characters live in a world of incredible technology but you notice that where instead of using technology, it seems as if the technology is using them? This leads into the Mediapolis world that some of us, can seem to get caught in, and once you are caught- it is very hard to become free. Living in a ‘Mediapolis’ life, refers to living in media, in comparison to living with media (Deuze, 2011: 137). With new affordances like virtual reality, where you, as a character are ‘experiencing’ what is ‘around’ you, this can also be known as immersion (Cassidy, 2017b), which brings the ‘Mediapolis’ lifestyle right to our doors. The reason that the ‘Mediapolis’ lifestyle is affecting the marketing industry, is because those who live a ‘Mediapolis’ life are becoming immune to marketing techniques and are thus making the skills and techniques that marketers’ use, useless to those immune. This does not help when the audience itself becomes a reflexive product that is constantly changing with social media. Furthermore, making it an extremely costly learning process to gain new qualifications to target those changing markets, due to more study, mentoring project and so forth. This leads into the empowered new media audiences.

Empowered new media audiences are people formerly known as the ‘audience’ to marketing campaigns or anything that marketing advertises (Cassidy, 2017b). Participatory culture itself is creating havoc with marketers’ roles, as those in it believe that because they use platforms every day, they know how to market their business and that line of social and professional starts to blur. Where their ‘self-work’ becomes a public performance, due to the blurring of that public/ private line (Cassidy, 2017c).

“The people formerly known as the audience are simply the public made realer, less fictional, more able, less predictable.” – Jay Rosen (2006)

This, I believe, terrifies marketers because the audiences that used to absorb anything you would give, is now becoming more immune and, as Rosen said, they are becoming more able and less predictable. Instead of being the audience who absorbed marketing and who were the target audience for marketing, they now want to get involved and market themselves, making demands of the media and its professionals (Cassidy, 2017b). Take the example of YouTube, where once people paid professionals to do services for them, they now are able to search on YouTube for exactly what to do, and to do it themselves. This is running marketing agents out of a job because people believe they can market themselves without ‘the professionals’ of the industry’s, help.


Although it may seem like the development of social media has destroyed the outlook for marketers, there are new affordances that have come with social media that are being used religiously. Affordances are possibilities for action, like how new media offers new possibilities for users, who appropriate them (Cassidy, 2017b). With the all new systems being created from social media, Marketers now have access to create and use algorithms to make targeting the audience easier. Now with smart devices and targeting technology, marketing companies can use this information to target to the exact audience’s preferences. These processes have never been seen before and are changing the way advertising is being viewed. However, although it is practically invaluable to marketing agents, it can be unethical and immoral, as it is exploiting the audience and using it as a commodity for pay and trading. It goes on further however, to the point where business will not use professional marketers and instead use cloud labour for their marketing campaigns from the audience they are targeting, where it is close to becoming unpaid labour (Cassidy, 2017d). Have you ever seen a company offer a prize for designing a new logo, or a new campaign idea? Cassidy (2017d) discussed in class this idea in class and furthered it by sharing an example similar to where a business may pay $2 million to their six individual marketing agents to create a logo, however, instead they can post it to a social networking site as a fun challenge with a $20,000 prize and will get thousands of entries. This type of gamification, the action of encouraging audiences to do the businesses desired actions by engaging them in a game-related approach not only saves them valuable time and money, it gives them a much larger variety of options (Cassidy, 2017d). It also creates lots of engagement from consumers and builds loyalty (Cassidy, 2017d).

Some recommendations that I would give after looking at how social media has affected marketing, is to be very aware that the audience has changed. Where they were once easily molded and quickly persuaded, they now are not only quite immune to marketing techniques that have been taught but are now wanting to market themselves in their businesses. I believe the other thing that marketers have to be careful of is how they use algorithms and internet data of their consumers, as they are people and not a commodity that can be traded like Pokemon​ cards.

In conclusion, Social Media, Self, and Society has really shown me how social media is affecting different industries. For this purpose, I wanted to look at the industry I am in so I can prepare myself for when I am in the real world​. The three areas I was most intrigued with marketing, were how the ‘Mediapolis’ lifestyle is affecting marketing, how empowered new media audiences are affecting who can actually market and lastly how new affordances can change how marketers target their audience. Therefore, I beleive that marketers are not on the way out, for the reasons that have been discussed.

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Flew, T. 2014. “Ch 1: Introduction to New Media.” In New Media. 4th ed, 1 – 17 Melbourne: Oxford University Press

Deuze, M. 2011. “Media life.” Media, Culture & Society 33(1): 137-148. doi: 10.1177/0163443710386518

Rosen, J. 2006. “The People Formerly Known as the Audience.” PressThink: Ghost of Democracy in the Media Machine, June 27. Accessed April 9th, 2017.

Cassidy, E. (2017a). KCB206 Social Media, Self and Society: Lectorial 1 [Powerpoint Sides]. Retrieved from

Cassidy, E. (2017b). KCB206 Social Media, Self and Society: Lectorial 2 [Powerpoint Sides]. Retrieved from

Cassidy, E. (2017c). KCB206 Social Media, Self and Society: Lectorial 3 [Powerpoint Sides]. Retrieved from

Cassidy, E. (2017d). KCB206 Social Media, Self and Society: Lectorial 4 [Powerpoint Sides]. Retrieved from