Corporate Eye

Consumer Sensitivity in Media Relations

Do you think large companies purposefully run ads that they know are offensive in vain attempts to get traffic or social communities humming their name? Do you think they know when they’ve made a no-no, or do they simply recoil in shock that they are 1. embarrassed or 2. busted?

Large companies have a social responsibility to the community to protect ideas and values, do they not? Are they just free to print, say, distribute anything that they want to all because they can? Don’t they have to be responsible, to answer to someone for their actions? Surely so.

Large (and small) companies do have a responsibility to consumers to protect ideas and values. Because they are in the forefront of marketing strategies, because they (often) have household names and because their products have mass appeal, they do have a social and business responsibility to answer to what they say, to whom they say it and how they say it.

Pepsi Max just recently came under fire for running a highly controversial ad depicting a lonely one calorie figure who was suicidal because he was so alone. The calorie held a gun to its head and shot himself, splattering blood everywhere as he stood poised within a noose ready to hang himself. I found the image to be quite graphic and rather offensive given that I am an avid diet Pepsi drinker and the one calorie drink is rather appealing to me. What offends me about is the implication that the one lone calorie is so miserable and so lonely that he’d rather take his “life” than be by himself.

The social communities are definitely humming Pepsi’s name from the article and comments on YumSugar, to John Hoffoss’s opinion blurb, to David Burn’s passionately written blog post on the matter and hosts of other opinion pieces on why Pepsi did not do such a good, warm-feeling outreach campaign with this ad.

While there are a lot of opinions on both sides of the discussion about the ad and its effect on consumer’s, it’s apparent and agreeable that this is a highly controversial subject. I for one think that Pepsi should not have circulated this ad at all. Having the ad run as its photo image depicted seemingly sends (to me) the message that suicide is a dark funny, perhaps light-hearted thing. Just my opinion.

But the one thing that I cannot deny is the press that this ad has gotten. People in chat rooms, forums and blogs are all talking about how “awful”, “disgusting”, or even how “funny looking” the ad was. You cannot deny, whether controversial or not, that Pepsi created a buzz about their product that could last anywhere from a few hours to a few months. Admittedly, the media package did its job in creating a buzz and talk about its product. But, I still object only to the way they did it.

Anyone else agree with me?

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Bridget Wright

Writer, Blogger
I am a freelance writer, blogger and professional motivational speaker. I primarily focus on business content, offering my clients strategic marketing strategies for their businesses. I have been an entrepreneur for over 13 years, after having worked extensively in corporate America.