Lessons from Pepsi's predicament, the Cindy Bot, James Caan's business advice & more: Editor's Overview

By Stephen Lepitak | -

April 10, 2017 | 6 min read

The Drum editor, Stephen Lepitak offers his weekly take on some stories and events from the past week and highlights a few things ahead for The Drum.

What to learn from Pepsi's misstep

For a few years now we have talked over and over about the rise of brand marketing latching onto social good in order to create consumer connections. Well Pepsi has just shown us just how dangerous that territory can be.

Stephen Lepitak

Stephen Lepitak

By naively sending the message that a major reality celebrity and a can of commercialism can heal the divides that are only growing in America, Pepsi's in-house creative team has really misjudged the mood of things right now.

They obviously wanted to appeal to a young demographic and show them that we are all human and that we share the same pleasures and that there are things that can bring us together - that was the message right? It wasn't just 'drink Pepsi?' Was it?

The brand got lost in the idea here and perhaps needed someone of the 'no' mindset to be difficult and show common sense. When brands are dealing with real-world issues,they should all have a real humbug on the team who isn't scared to make the point 'Maybe this isn't a good idea.'

I'm surprised we haven't seen more mistakes in this manner as it's a real minefield adopting social messages. Budweiser got it right during the Super Bowl and latched onto a relevant and meaningful conversation around immigration in America. It didn't downplay the issue whatsoever, which should be rule number one here.

I've been asked 'But doesn't controversy sell?' a few times this week. And yes, it's been proven that it does. And while this may shift a few cans of cola - the embarrassment for the brand is here to stay for years to come.

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Oh and what a bloody terrible advert too. So bad even the parodies of it are bad because the real thing is just too bad to be good.

We'll no doubt refer back to this for years to come - but really - Nivea's 'White is Purity' slogan is far more worrisome in my view. That it hasn't caused the same furore baffles me. Perhaps it just lacks a Kardashian.

The Cindy Gallop chat Bot won't speak to me

I loved R/GA's Facebook chat bot of Cindy Gallop last week as part of the #AskForARaise activity, it really did capture her spirit. Also, anecdotally, I am aware it did motivate female users and make them feel as though they had the support and belief in themselves to push forward and ask for a pay rise and more.

Job done? Not quite.

One thing I'd like to see added to the app is an ability to advise men (like myself) what more they can do, other than share the messages it supplies automatically if you are not a woman user. I get that men are not the core audience and nor should they be - but something a bit more should be added to motivate men to do more to support their female colleagues. I bet that advice - no matter how minor - would have hit home here.

Cindy has said it herself - men need to be more engaged in this conversation in order to make a difference.

I don't mean to be negative - this was an original idea to be celebrated. But that was my one niggle and I hope R/GA can add something small soon to help there.

James Caan offers his business advice, for free!

Last week we began to roll out the start of our video series featuring entrepreneur, former Dragon and Gemini recruitment chairman James Caan. The idea is that we will work with Mr Caan to deliver his experience and insights to our audience of business leaders.

He's a very courteous and knowledgeable gentleman, so please do take the opportunity to send me questions you would like to ask him and we'll see if he can help you out.

Elsewhere at The Drum

Last week we revealed the nominations for this year's The Drum Design Awards while nominations for both the Scottish Design Awards and The Drum Marketing Awards will be revealed later this week. All will be revealed on their official website and, of course, on The Drum website too.

Keep tabs on what else we have going on through The Drum Diary


As a side note, I and everyone at The Drum would like to offer our condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Chris Bevington who worked for Spotify in Sweden and was killed in last week's attack in Stockholm.

Thanks for reading everyone. If you want to get in touch or react to anything about then contact me through @stephenlepitak on Twitter or on LinkedIn where you won't find many other Stephen Lepitaks.

Have a busy, safe and productive week!



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