Since becoming Accredited in Public Relations, I’ve been watching the news with a different set of eyes. When I see PR disasters play out time and time again, one thought races through my brain.
Where was the PR person?
It’s become clear that many companies use PR for “spin” or “slant.” These deceitful notions are why so many companies convey skewed messages that don’t translate well to their audiences. As a result, their brands suffer terribly.
These nagging thoughts and questions concerning the strategies, tactics, and execution of some of these PR mishaps are what compelled me to start this blog. I’ve gathered an excellent and wise group of practitioners that have some really good things to say. You won’t be bored!
Public relations should have a seat at the management table from the very beginning of a campaign starting with research all the way through implementation and evaluation.
As many of you already know, the Pepsi-Kendall Jenner ad turned out to be a massive failure. If you haven’t seen the now defunct commercial, you can watch it here.
For a quick run-down, the commercial begins with a mass protest featuring a myriad of marchers. It’s not clear what the protest is about. A blonde-wigged Kendall Jenner notices the demonstration, rips off her wig and joins the protesters. At the end, Jenner approaches a police officer and gives him a Pepsi as a sign of peace and unity.
Research. Where was it? One of the first things you do in a campaign is define your audience. (Hint: there is no such thing as the general public). Who did Pepsi want to target? A company wants its target audience to buy its product as a result of the campaign.
So, who was Pepsi trying to persuade to buy its soda? I have never spoken with anyone working for Pepsi. My guess is the 118-year-old company was trying to reach social justice millennials. If you’ve been watching the news (I don’t blame you if you’re on a news break!), you’ve seen that recent protests in our country (Black Lives Matter, Berkeley protesting Ann Coulter, Anti-Trumpers,) are dominating headlines. It seems Pepsi’s strategy aimed at playing off these protests to bring a message of peace and harmony through soda-drinking.
But before you even write the script, reach out to the very folks involved in the protests tied to the campaign’s approach. Their feedback is CRUCIAL. What would resonate with them? For instance, did anyone reach out to leaders in the Black Lives Matter movement? If so, they would have gotten the critical feedback needed to nix the whole premise altogether.
Kendall Jenner. She is a beautiful model and celebrity. But does her persona resonate with the audience? Will she persuade your target demographic to spend money on Pepsi? To reiterate my earlier comment about how to build a successful campaign, before you hire your main character or spokesperson, you MUST properly research your audience. If you want fans of E! to buy your product, then she may be perfect for the job! But if your target audience is social justice millennials, ASK them to what they would respond. Whether it’s through focus groups, surveys or one-on-one interviews, get their take on it.
Finally, research your message. The message that translated to me was, “Pepsi can bring even the most polarized groups together.” It’s cute, it is! But again, will this click with the folks you want buying your drink? The answer was pretty clear.
Pepsi will be okay. We have short attention spans, and they can learn from this.
What are your thoughts? Please share your comments below.