MultiCultClassics is often occupied with real work. As a result, a handful of events occur without the expected blog commentary. This limited series—Delayed WTF—seeks to make belated amends for the absence of malice.
Advertising Age posted video interviews with outgoing PepsiCo Global Beverage Group President Brad Jakeman, who shared the things he learned from creating the Kendall Jenner “Jump In” Pepsi video that people jumped all over. Based on Jakeman’s comments, it appears the man missed the real lessons. So as a public service, MultiCultClassics will attempt to offer enlightenment on a few points:
• Jakeman contended the traditional advertising research tools are “woefully inadequate,” whining that the testing processes are not equipped to address the present reality that shows “we live in a world now where one person with 50,000 Twitter following can have a significant impact on your brand.” Sorry, but Jakeman’s professional pontification sounds like a pity party, as well as uninformed navel-gazing. The world hasn’t changed so much as the technology. That is, in the pre-Digital Age—where Jakeman seems to reside—marketers such as Procter & Gamble had formulas to measure public responses. For example, P&G recognized receiving a single complaint letter actually meant a considerably larger proportion of people were offended too, but just hadn’t made the effort to draft and mail their unhappiness. In today’s world, the public can mount a backlash with far fewer hassles. It’s not about key influencers stirring mass outrage; rather, it’s simply that pissed-off people can easily and readily express themselves. More on Jakeman’s flawed reasoning in this area can be viewed in the summation below.
• Jakeman complained marketers are unfairly persecuted for one slip, griping how folks will invalidate any corporate good that might have occurred in the past. The problem with this argument is Jakeman’s citing of Unilever and Dove as victims of a recent social media blunder. Sorry, but Unilever and Dove were not spanked for an isolated misdeed. The marketer and brand have a history of hypocrisy and offensiveness. Believe it or not, the public is quite forgiving when forgiveness is warranted.
• Jakeman pleaded for constructive feedback and sympathetic assistance in times of trouble. “We are now publishing thousands of pieces of content,” explained Jakeman. “There are going to be these issues. And when they happen, be the person that reaches out to that company and [says], ‘How can I help?’ Don’t be the person that piles on.” Um, lots of persons weighed in with advice over the Pepsi failure. And in these times of account competition, it’s a safe bet countless firms would gladly deliver their services. Jakeman’s request is absurd, given the fact that the “Jump In” video was developed by an in-house enterprise—which sorta symbolizes a position that PepsiCo doesn’t want or need outside support.
In summation, in the future, Jakeman should consider deeper thinking before speaking. People took offense to “Jump In” because it was offensive. No existing or imagined research tool was necessary. Indeed, traditional probing devices have never effectively gauged anything. The disaster resulted from the cultural cluelessness of Jakeman and his team. Period. Offending marketers don’t deserve compassion or a second chance, especially in a generic marketplace presenting near-unlimited options—and doubly especially when the marketer has a reputation for fucking up. Marketers and brands that live with integrity and show respect can avoid having to regularly retract, backpedal and beg for forgiveness. Oh, and if clients like Jakeman truly desire culturally competent content, hire culturally competent creators versus woefully inadequate insiders and/or Omnicom drones.