Back in 1996, cola giant PEPSI created a television ad (below) that became the subject of a history-making court case.
The ad was part of a campaign centered on a promotional loyalty program where customers could earn PESPSI POINTS.
These points could, in turn, be traded for physical items such as t-shirts (75 points) sunglasses (175 points) and jackets (1450 points) all branded with the Pepsi logo.
Points could be earned through the purchase of cartons of Pepsi, with labels attached to the boxes of the cartons. The campaign was the largest in Pepsi’s history to that point.
To advertise the promotion, Pepsi released a series of television commercials; one of these commercials showcased a computer-generated Pepsi-branded AV-8 Harrier II jet, manufactured by McDonell Douglas.
In what was intended as exaggerated humour, the ad showed that if you amassed seven million points, you could earn yourself a Harrier Jump Jet (worth $37 million at the time).
The promotion caught the attention of enterprising 21-year-old business student John Leonard. In place of a label, the promotion allowed Pepsi Points to be directly purchased for 10¢ per point, a detail noticed by Leonard, who convinced five investors to lend him a total of $700,000.
Leonard sent a check for $700,008.50, and 15 labels, per promotion rules to the cola giant. The offer was refused by Pepsi, who referred to the promotion of the Harrier jet in the commercial as “fanciful” and stated its inclusion was to create a “humorous and entertaining ad”.
A protracted court case ensued. This is the subject of the Netflix documentary PEPSI, WHERE’S MY JET?
Uppercase watchable, intriguing and entertaining.
American author and screenwriter Brett Easton Ellis (born 1964) has just released his first novel in 13 years. SHARDS is a story set in the world of 1981. It centers on the hunt for a serial killer named THE TRAWLER.