After seeing a few days of backlash towards the latest Pepsi commercial, we thought it was time to look at what a relevant review and approval process would have looked like for the team to avoid the mess they are in now.
We reference 'The Atlantic' who pose this statement:
How on Earth Does an Ad Like Pepsi's Get Approved?
The backlash-provoking spot likely came out of a months-long, multimillion-dollar process that offered producers plenty of opportunities to spike it.
We here at Wipster agree with this statement. Thousands of TV commercials and business videos are reviewed and approved through our system every month, and there are a lot of stringent workflows to make sure this type of content never gets published.
A major trend we are seeing is transparency during the creation process. Multiple people at all levels of the business are invited to review work-in-progress video with the aim of making sure the content is hitting its mark. If this video had been shared throughout Pepsi before it went live, it never would have gone live!
There is a phenomenon that happens when people congregate where consensus becomes the norm. Everyone tends to want to agree with each other, and you'll often end up with something that may not be the best, because people haven't truly said what they feel. A good review process avoids this by getting each person to review privately, having the 'intended experience' with the piece of content.
Below we re-enact a review experience that SHOULD have happened early in the creation process of this video, which would have caught most, if not all, of the offending elements of this spot, and let the creative team move beyond the cliches and awkward choices to hopefully create something of meaning for the 'change generation'.
At the bottom, I've posted an edit that focuses only on the march and shows what I think they were aiming for in the first instance.
If Pepsi had gone through just ONE review before releasing their latest spot...
The latest edit is shared around some execs and lead creatives at the agency for notes.
The review starts out fairly well, it seems to be working.
The review starts out well, the exec is seeing the usual good stuff with good diversity and strong use of brand colors (if not totally hammy)... but then...
The thread of the commercial starts to unthread, but it gets worse...
As the video makers start weaving in political statements the sentiment changes very quickly, and they lose control. (This can and does get picked up in the first review).
At this stage it should be back to the drawing board, as there can be no real reasons to continue with the current edit...
Halfway through this video most reviewers would be on the phone with the creative team shouting about contracts and blown budgets...
But on a more serious note, expensive videos don't have to get to this point when relevant stakeholders are brought into the conversation early. As marketing is (finally) becoming more authentic, and the internet is not letting anyone get away with ANYTHING, this stuff is getting critically important. Did you know Pepsi stock has taken a hit? Review and approval matters, don't get left behind.
If you want your voice heard, Join in the review here.
It's great that the company has retracted this video and apologized, but imagine if they didn't have to? With robust review and approval processes companies like Pepsi are avoiding situations like this all the time. We do commend Pepsi on the creative attempt with this video, but we think they could have taken it so much further, creating a truly iconic image for a generation.
Below you can see a re-edit we did of the commercial focusing on only the activist march, taking out all the elements that took away from the single clear message of 'a generation that stands up for itself'. If you were reviewing it, what would you say?