Pepsi, Where’s My Jet Review
I’ll be honest, when I first saw this on Netflix I thought it was a remake of Team America or something silly like that, and never in my wildest dreams did I think it was a documentary about Pepsi – a company we all know and a case that I had never heard of before.
In the 90s advertisement was crazy, it was colourful, fun, extravagant, and just a bit wild. And so to keep up with this trend Pepsi decided to start selling merchandise where for each can or bottle of Pepsi you buy you get points that you can spend on this merchandise, and to have the big finale in the tv adverts they offered a Harrier Jet for 7 million Pepsi points. But here’s the kicker, they didn’t include any terms and conditions or small print on the advert, so if someone was able to raise up the 7 million points they would need for this Harrier Jet Pepsi would have to oblige in this deal. But no one could do that right?
Enter John Leonard, a young man with a dream and a business partner with a lot of money. He decided that he wanted to be the one to get this Harrier Jet that he would share with his business partner Todd Hoffman, and they went about getting enough Pepsi points to get themselves the jet. Now of course when Pepsi got this cheque in the post they didn’t believe it and thought it was ludicrous, and thus begins a many year legal battle over whether Pepsi had to actually give away this jet or whether it should have been seen as a joke from the get-go.
The fascinating part of this for me is that I never heard of this case before. I was born in the mid 90s so I didn’t have a lot of years within it but to never hear about this case seems crazy. I feel it is such an interesting case and shows this is why small print is so important in any sort of work you do, to make sure that your customers don’t think that they can literally get a Harrier Jet or anything else out of this world. It’s such a funny story because it’s so serious, yes you could look at this as a joke, but the fact that they could swindle the company because of it is fabulous and really is a great story about advertising and being careful within the law, as well as one man’s fight against the corporation.
But there is darkness in this story too in that Pepsi ran a similar campaign in the Philippines and this caused riots and death when they did not hold up their part of the deal. They offered these people a million pesos if their number that was under the cap of their bottle was shown on TV, and when the same number that hundreds of people had was shown Pepsi did not pay up in giving them all a million each and instead offered them 500 pesos. This started a riot where people were killed and so you can say, in America this was only a joke, yet for people in worse situations when they’re being offered something like a million in their currency it’s no longer a joke anymore and is something that people are willing to fight for.
I’ve said this before with the DB Cooper Where Are You? documentary but the way that these documentaries are being portrayed on the screen is fantastic. This one was very set in the 90s, from the graphics they used, the music, the style, everything just had that feeling. It really encapsulated you and made you want to keep watching to find out what happens, and they did the same with DB Cooper where they made that documentary very James Bond-esque. I’m really enjoying this route that Netflix are going down with these documentaries and I do hope they keep up this genre of documentaries going forward because it does pique your interest so much more than ones we have seen before.
This case is absolutely fascinating and really goes to show how careful you have to be in the advertising world and how easily your jokes and comments can be misconstrued to people that take it seriously. I think it’s a brilliant case that shows that one person can make a difference in the world when going up against big corporations, and if you have the guts to do it then why not? Yes the time that John took during this case he will never get back but now he is known as a legend for doing it, and it seems that the friendship he formed with Todd along the way has cemented a lifelong friendship where they constantly go after new battles – mainly mountains these days – to conquer and I think that’s so inspirational and wonderful.
What do you think of Pepsi, Where’s My Jet?
Until next time.