From a post on NEATORAMA today, we learn of six seriously failed Pepsi ads of years past. Among them:
Keep On Truckin': Pepsi accidentally printed 55 winning tickets, instead of five, for their Pepsi 500 contest in 2001. As a result, they had to fly 55 people to the Daytona 500 (instead of 5), give away five brand-new Dodge trucks (instead of 1), and give away $20,625 in free gas (instead of $1,825). Estimated cost of mistake: $400,000
Over Stuffed: "In April 1996, Pepsi canceled its "Pepsi Stuff" merchandise giveaway campaign months ahead of schedule. Reason: Too many winners. The company underestimated how many people would redeem the points by 50%, forcing it to spend $60 million more than expected on free merchandise."
Jet Lag: Scholar of flawed promotions in Business School (they have that major?) John Leonard tried to redeem seven million award points for the fighter jet promised in a Pepsi ad. Of course, they refused, citing the offer being made "in jest". Leonard took them to court, but Pepsi won with the judge ruling that "no objective person could reasonably have concluded that the commercial actually offered consumers a Harrier jet."
The King of (Soda) Pop: After years of a successful Michael Jackson sponsorship, 1993 saw Jackson canceling his Pepsi "Dangerous" tour because of "1) stress generated by allegations that he had sexually molested a young boy, and (2) addiction to painkillers he took "to control pain from burns suffered while filming a Pepsi ad."
The Name Game: In 1983 Pepsi ran a promotion that it would reward people $5 per letter for those who could spell their last names using letters printed on Pepsi bottles and cans. Their control was supposed to be limiting the vowels. Of course, one dude named Richard Vlk turned in 1,393 three letter sets for a cool $20,894. He got so many letters by taking out a classified ad offering to split the winnings with anyone who sent him a matching set. Oh, and he was a diabetic. Didn't even drink Pepsi.
They Can See Clearly Now: Ah, Crystal Pepsi. I remember being offered free samples at a rest stop in New Jersey and hating the stuff. Which brings up another point. Is that a common thing - to offer free samples of new product at interstate rest stops? Weird. Anyway, from the post: "In 1992 Pepsi introduced Crystal Pepsi, an attempt to cash in on the booming popularity of see-through soft drinks like Clearly Canadian. Sales were less than half of what Pepsi projected, even after the company reformulated the product. Marketing experts point to two critical flaws that they say doomed Crystal Pepsi from the start: (1) customers balked at paying extra for a product that, because it was clear, was perceived to have fewer ingredients than regular Pepsi, and (2) after more than a century of conditioning, consumers want colas to be dark brown in color. "Clear sodas are about as appetizing as brown water," an industry analyst explains."