Heineken vs. Pepsi: How to Leverage Today’s Sociopolitical Climate

velocity Market Information

Today’s sociopolitical climate makes it essential for companies to tread lightly when it comes to advertisement. By now, you’ve probably heard all about the latest Pepsi ad. Many argue that any publicity, whether negative or positive, is good publicity. Pepsi has been swept up in controversy in connection with an ad that depicted Kendall Jenner solving the tension between protesters and police with a can of soda and a smile. This controversial ad did not go over well with its audience and was pulled almost immediately after it aired. However, Pepsi’s mentions on social media were up more than 7,000% the day it debuted. In total, Pepsi was brought up more than 1 million times across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

It’s difficult to tell if Pepsi’s purpose in making the ad was to stir up controversy. Despite the ad being called a tone-deaf take on “protest as brunch,” as well as “a trivialization of civil rights activism in America,” Pepsi may be onto something. Controversy is no stranger to consumer marketing today, and the statistics show that maybe this wasn’t the big PR blunder that it was made out to be: a large percentage of minorities — namely Latinos and African-Americans — viewed Pepsi more favorably after watching the ad. A whopping 75% of Latinos said the ad made them more favorable to the soda brand, while 51% of African-Americans said the same. Only 41% of whites said the ad made them more favorable toward Pepsi.

If social media in 2017 has shown us anything, it’s that no matter how bad the PR move, there will be another brand waiting to steal the spotlight shortly thereafter. Competing companies will sit back and watch as companies like Pepsi generate outrage online, all while plotting their marketing move to heal the wounds.

Directly following the Pepsi ad fiasco, Heineken stepped up to the plate. Heineken decided to launch a much longer video campaign that would show completely different people settling their differences over a crisp and refreshing beer. Consumers received this ad especially well after the Pepsi fluke. Heineken’s ad is an example of how companies turn another company’s PR trash into their treasure by learning from consumers. Social media platforms have been miracle workers in this way, they give valuable insight into consumer behavior, thoughts, and values.  Companies now have an inside look at what their audience wants, and when they make a mistake, they will never hear the end of it.

Here at Velocity, we are always identifying and examining what resonates with our audiences. 55% of local online consumers across 60 countries say that they are willing to pay more for products and services provided by companies that are committed to positive social and environmental impact. Welcome to 2017, where beer is sold by pulling your heartstrings and say goodbye to the ads of the 80’s, where babes in bikinis were the secret weapon of selling.