You may have heard that Pepsi created an iTunes app to promote its energy drink Amp. And you may have heard that the app, “Amp Up Before You Score”, was offensive to women. The app is designed to help guys “score” with 24 types of women from Cougars to Twins to Women’s Studies Majors. It offers helpful pick up lines, type-appropriate restaurant options and other helpful tidbits. The app urges hopeful men to “change your game and raise your expectations.”
Based on tweets and blog comments across the Internet, not everyone is offended by the idea of typecasting women into 24 buckets and building an app to seduce those women. Some think it’s funny. But what is hard to laugh off is that the app encourages men to keep a brag list of their conquests and even share the details with their friends via social media.
More recently, you may have heard that Pepsi apologized for the app. That is not quite accurate. The company sent this message via Twitter: “Our app tried to show the humorous lengths guys go 2 pick up women. We apologize if it’s in bad taste & appreciate your feedback.”
That is not an apology. That tweet says that if the app is in bad taste, then the company apologizes. There is no accountability in that statement. And if Pepsi truly felt an apology was in order, then it would most likely pull the app. It has not. “Amp Up Before You Score” is still available as a free download from iTunes. And while some men’s antics may be humorous, encouraging men to brag about sexual conquests with no regard for the woman involved is not.
At a minimum it is disappointing to see a company use poor judgment in its marketing and then fail to take accountability for it. At a maximum, it is disturbing that a Fortune 500 company is promoting the idea of men raising their expectations with regards to “scoring” with women and then bragging about it publicly. And somewhere in between, it is surprising that a market leader could make such a bad business decision. After all, women control 85-90 percent of consumer buying power in this country. Pepsi would be better served to recognize women as purchasing decision maker than as sorority girl, bookworm or vegan.
It is appropriate that Pepsi used the hashtag #pepsifail in issuing its pseudo apology. That may be the only thing the beverage company got right.
What do you think?