Marketing campaigns that missed the mark

You may or may not be aware of the recent controversy over new advertising campaigns by international power brands Nivea and Pepsi. We’ve asked our marketers to take a closer look at the campaigns for themselves and make their own judgement. Are people overreacting, or have these campaigns seriously missed the mark?

We’re sure you’ve seen it but if not, you can take a look at the Pepsi advert below.👇


The Nivea campaign below, titled 'White is Purity'.👇

Advert 01 - Pepsi, Kendall Jenner

Sophie’s thoughts: When supermodel, Kendall Jenner, teamed up with brand powerhouse, Pepsi, to star in their 2017 campaign it was bound to be big… unfortunately for both Jenner and Pepsi, their combined popularity and guaranteed reach has magnified the fail of this campaign.  
In my opinion, the brand has tried tapping into a far larger socio, political context that just shouldn’t be touched if it’s not for the relevant reasons - definitely not to sell a fizzy drink product. Of course, all marketing aims to play on emotions and consumer behaviour to a certain extent, but the parallels between the advert and the Black Lives Matter protests are overbearing and uncomfortable. Suggesting a can of Pepsi can solve the race, gender and systematic problems that we as a world currently face has caused significant outrage, so much so that the ad has now been pulled. Pepsi is nice, but it’s not that nice!

The campaign received response from Martin Luther King’s daughter, Bernice, who tweeted ‘If only Daddy had known about Pepsi’ with a famous image of her dad in protest - a completely understandable response (albeit heartbreaking). In such a troubling time for America, you just can’t help but think… what the hell were they thinking? Ironically, Pepsi - completely tasteless!  

Beckie’s thoughts:  Pepsi & Kendall Jenner’s advert can only be described with one word: Fail. It seems to get across the message that police brutality and general injustice can all be solved with a can of Pepsi… Not quite guys? I can completely see why people have made the connection between the advert’s message and the Black Lives Matter movement, and this seems to leave a sour taste in your mouth. With the current tension around the World surrounding political and social factors, the whole concept of having a protest and police at the certain of the story seems risky from the get go, without even considering how that story was developed into the full ad.

Pepsi pulled the ad almost immediately and have since apologised publicly.

Advert 02 - Nivea, ‘White is Purity’

Sophie’s thoughts: Another campaign that controversially touches on race is Nivea’s ‘White is Purity’ ad that has also recently been pulled by the beauty brand.

The brand has spoken out in justification - the two colours on the deodorant can, black and white, were meant to symbolise different elements: black for strength, and white for purity. For me, immediately using the colours black and white in an opposing manner raises a red flag and should be approached carefully - clearly, Nivea didn’t share this fear and jumped in head first. It just seems (again ironically) so insensitive, to symbolise the colour white with a notion of ‘purity’, especially for a brand that prides itself on targeting a cross section of socio, cultural groups regardless of heritage.

For me, both the campaigns are totally off target.

Beckie’s thoughts: The first thought that came to my mind with both campaigns was: ‘how did they not anticipate the backlash?’. Nivea’s choice slogan of ‘White is Purity’ seems almost too obviously insensitive to be what their marketing team picked. They have made a statement to say that it was directed at white marks on dark clothing, however, the damage has really already been done.

While it’s fair to say that most marketers will make mistakes in their career, the level of blissful ignorance to such a vast group, especially one that will be customers of the brand, would seem like much more than just ‘a mistake’. I can completely understand why people kicked up a fuss about the campaign… I’m pretty sure this particular slogan is one that’s been used by a lot of white supremacist and racist groups in the past!

What are your thoughts? Tweet us @StrawbToo!