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PepsiFail

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On or about 12 Oct 2009, AMP Energy drinks (owned by PepsiCo), launched an iPhone app designed to help men "score" with women by providing information and pick-up lines designed to appeal to 24 different "types" of woman. Further, the app lets men broadcast their "conquests" via Facebook and Twitter.

The application was created and launched by the ad agency R/GA[1].

Information Edit


Issues Edit

  • Body image - The illustrations of women are hyper-sexualized
  • Condescension - The app's presumption that all women fit into certain types who respond to a genericized set of "pick-up lines" is incredibly insulting, not to mention the supposition that women won't notice a man reading this information from his iPhone
  • Harassment - The application encourages the harassment of women
  • Objectification - Women are portrayed as being nothing more than sexual objects; prizes to be won and added to a "Brag List". Further, all women are reduced to 24 "types", the members of each of which are completely fungible
  • Othering - This app is decidedly not aimed at women; from a marketing perspective, the implicit assumption is that no women consume energy drinks
  • Misogyny - The app is essentially a software-based manifestation of the Pick-up artist mentality


Response Edit

The tag #pepsifail began to be applied to this incident and gathered much commentary on twitter -- the majority of it negative; some of it dismissive of the concerns raised.

Apology Edit

AMP and PepsiCo issued this apology via twitter:

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

This is a bad apology because

  • the phrasing "if it's in bad taste" does not clearly admit that the app was problematic; moreover, it suggests that PepsiCo is sorry about the app's reception, not about having created it; and
  • the apology was not followed up by concrete action -- despite the acknowledgement that the app was offensive, PepsiCo did not remove it from the AMP website or the iPhone App Store.
  • The apology does not state who they are apologising to, what they apologising for, nor that anything has changed in Pepsi marketing as a result of their blunder.

Accordingly, the apology was widely panned by twitter users. [2] Some people expressed praise for PepsiCo for applying the same fail tag to their apology that critics had been using to discuss the problem. [3]

Pepsi pulled the application from the App Store on 22 Oct 2009, some 10 days after it was released. [4]


Critical responses Edit

Neutral responses Edit

Positive / dismissive responses Edit


References Edit

  1. http://inventorspot.com/articles/app_help_men_score_tweet_pepsi_33439
  2. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/10/13/amp-up-before-you-score-t_n_318370.html
  3. http://twitter.com/rosiered23/statuses/4823314321
  4. http://www.brandweek.com/bw/content_display/news-and-features/digital/e3i92ec830f3865d5c06118472740b17707

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