Pepsi promo 'teaches' men how to score
So it seems that we haven’t “come a long way, baby.”
The spirit of that iconic slogan for Virginia Slims cigarettes, which sought to capitalize on the women’s liberation movement of the 1970s, has given way to the “bro culture” in advertising that many see as objectifying women.
The latest example to provoke an uproar is an iPhone application created to promote PepsiCo’s energy drink Amp. The free app, released last week, offers pickup lines for 24 stereotypes of women — from “political girl” to “cougar” to “princess.” Users can then add women — along with a name, date of conquest and comments — to a “brag list,” which can be sent out via Twitter and Facebook.
“It’s downright degrading,” Jessica Pagan, 21, of the Bronx, said when shown the app.
The application also offers tips for how to score. For a married woman, there are links to nearby motels, and for the “rebound girl,” a map of ice cream shops. Want to talk to a female Democrat? “Let me tell you about my stimulus plan,” the app suggests.
“That’s a nasty and filthy way to treat girls,” said Erica Colon, 19, of the Bronx.
Sonia Ossorio, president of the city chapter of the National Organization for Women, said it fits with a trend of “crass advertising” that is gaining currency.
“A lot of advertising, a lot of entertainment, has really relied on some of the most pathetic stereotypes of women,” she said.
Ossorio mentioned the popularity of shock jocks like Don Imus, whose controversial comments about a women’s basketball team landed him in hot water. Also, a recent movie tour by blogger Tucker Max, whose writing is filled with bragging about his conquests, has at times met with as many protesters as admirers.
After a backlash to the Amp campaign, PepsiCo tweeted an apology Monday: “Our app tried 2 show the humorous lengths guys go 2 pick up women. We apologize if it’s in bad taste ...” The company did not respond to requests for comments yesterday.
Evan Vogel, who owns an ad agency in Manhattan, said the company must have known the reaction it would cause. “They thought, ‘Hey this is going to get people talking, this is going to get buzz,’” he said.
Eric Greenleaf, a professor of marketing at NYU, predicted PepsiCo would alter the program as it continued to get negative feedback.
While women yesterday mostly expressed disgust at the marketing campaign, many men said the controversy has been overblown.
“It’s a funny and cute app, and shouldn’t be taken seriously,” said Bryan Hilliard, 34, of Brooklyn. “If someone doesn’t get it, they’re lacking a sense of humor.”
Phoebe Kingsak contributed to this story.
Viral gone wild: Ad campaigns that ended badly
Whopper Sacrifice: Burger King in January urged flame-grilled fans to drop 10 Facebook fans in exchange for a Whopper. Before the campaign ended, more than 233,000 friends received messages that they were unceremoniously dumped for a burger.
Make your own Chevy ads: In 2006, Chevrolet invited the Web-savvy to create Tahoe commercials by meshing their own messages with video clips and music on ChevyApprentice.com. Protesters flooded the site with ads slamming Chevy’s environmental impact.
Raging Cow: Dr Pepper/Seven Up took to blogs in 2003 to promote their Raging Cow milk drinks. The company hired six teenagers to blog about the drinks on a Web site, but the entries were slammed as disingenuous and the drinks subsequently boycotted.