Earlier this week we reported on an iPhone app that Pepsi created for its energy drink Amp. The app was designed to help guys score with women and then brag about it. Many were outraged by the app, claiming it was sexist and offensive. We took a poll asking if Pepsi should pull the ap and 71 percent of respondents said yes. Thirteen percent of the respondents were leaning yes and a combined 17 percent answered no or leaning no. Yesterday, we learned the beverage giant had indeed pulled the plug on the Amp app. The company issued a statement that said pulling the app was “an appropriate course of action.”
This corporate reversal and ambiguous statement of accountability seems to be a trend right now. Remember the picture from Ralph Lauren that was retouched resulting in the model’s head appearing bigger than her pelvis? The clothing manufacturer addressed the issue by saying, “After further investigation, we have learned that we are responsible for the poor imaging and retouching that resulted in a very distorted image of a woman’s body. We have addressed the problem and going forward will take every precaution to ensure that the caliber of our artwork represents our brand appropriately.” Were they addressing the fact the brand was hurt or that the image was distorted?
Yahoo was the other major brand doing spin control this week. Following news that the company’s Open Hack Day in Taiwan included lap dancers, the head of the Yahoo Development Network issued this statement, “I wanted to acknowledge the public reaction generated by the images of female dancers at our Taiwan Open Hack Day this past weekend. Our hack events are designed to give developers an opportunity to learn about our APIs and technologies. As many folks have rightly pointed out, the “Hack Girls” aspect of our Taiwan Hack Day is not reflective of that spirit or purpose. And it’s certainly not the message we want to send about our values here at Yahoo!. Hack Days are about making everyone feel welcome, including women coders and technologists.” Once again, it was not an apology. It was more a statement of regret.
Perhaps the corporate attorneys will not allow these companies to say “sorry.” But more than counsel on the back end, these companies need guidance on the front end to advise them that women expect better.