What can brands learn from Pepsi’s Kendall Jenner fiasco?

What can brands learn from Pepsi’s Kendall Jenner fiasco?

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The dust might be starting to settle following the massive backlash caused by Pepsi’s now notorious Kendall Jenner commercial, but it has raised a lot of questions in the advertising world. As well as the obvious ‘how could appropriating a political movement for commercial gain possibly be a good idea?’ it’s got us thinking: are there risks of using an in-house agency?

One of the clearest issues around the campaign is the lack of outsider perspective. When a company or a brand decides to create their own collateral, there is a tendency to be a little short sighted about how it would look to others.

If you’re passionately connected to your brand, then of course you’ll have a thorough knowledge of your product and company values. However, an agency will still take this on board, only with none of the potential bias towards the brand that can come with being too close to it.

Now, we’re not saying that using an agency is always a hundred per cent successful – CP&B famously caused uproar at the 2011 Super Bowl with their widely reviled Groupon commercial – but agencies are here for a reason. For a start, it’s what agencies are trained to do! A creative agency will think about the nuances of the brand, the position in the market, the implications of the campaign. They have fresh perspectives and new ideas.

While it hasn’t been revealed if Pepsi sought any outside opinions for the Kendall Jenner campaign, by creating in-house they are less likely to have received push back on their ideas. An executive speaking to Ad Age said: “When you don’t have other points of view, you lose that check and balance, which is so crucial to hitting the right note culturally and hitting the right tone. When I look at what Pepsi did, I actually think it was well intentioned. They were trying to do something positive, but they hit the wrong note and there was no backstop to put pressure on that note. And I think we’re seeing the consequences of that.”

Pepsi responded to the controversy by pulling the ad and issuing an apology, so at least they’re handling their PR crisis better than United Airlines did, but if you’re looking for an agency that’ll get your brand noticed for the better, why not drop us a message?