Pepsi Ad – That’s What Happens When You Fire Your Procurement People

… and talking of Pepsi, as we wrote here in our article principally about United Airlines, how on earth did that dreadful advert get made? You know, where Kendall Jenner (a model and personality, we’re told) solves all the problems of the world and stops the coolest set of demonstrators ever seen from being massacred in cold blood by a vicious fascistic police force, (staffed entirely by models), by giving the most gorgeous copper a can of fizzy drink.

The ad was widely criticised for trivialising demonstrations aimed at social justice causes, with the frankly daft idea that protestors and police would get along better if the former gave the latter a can of drink. The advert was also seen as  insensitive with regard to the Black Lives Matter movement and the iconic picture here.

Various theories have been put forward as to how this misjudgement was made by the firm. There is a good article here on the Atlantic website which looks at the likely process and what might have gone wrong. But then we remembered this – just over a year ago, PepsiCo eliminated its global marketing procurement team. As we reported at the time:

“The marketing procurement team was about a dozen strong, and some have apparently been placed elsewhere. But the responsibility for handling agency relationships, media buying and presumably the other elements of marketing services procurement — which can include sponsorship, direct mail and design — have been given to brand executives”.

So that’s where the problem lay! No sensible, practical, feet on the ground procurement folk to say to the marketing folk, “are you sure this is a good idea”? Instead, Pepsi obviously has lots of creative hipster types congratulating themselves on being contemporary and down with the kids … which clearly they are not.

Well, it’s a theory anyway. Do you remember the brilliant Vincent Franklin* playing the Head of Contracts, Nick “I can’t allow it” Jowett, in the TV comedy about the Olympics, Twenty Twelve? His main role was to listen to twaddle from the marketing or “sustainability” people then say, “Well, I’m from Yorkshire and I’m not having it – that’s a load of nonsense” or words to that effect. So where was Nick Jowett, or his marketing services category manager equivalent, when Pepsi needed him?

(He has also been very good in the BBC’s excellent Decline and Fall adaptation, playing drunk teacher, Prendergast).

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