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Tremendous post. I had not heard anything yet about this AMP outrage. Why? Because I'm not the target audience either. I'm not much of a Starbucks man myself, but coffee/soda are the only products I consume that get me going. And I have been married for 10 years and have a 20-month old daughter.

While I find the character types of women in poor taste, the target audience for those that drink AMP probably don't. It's a totally different type of lifestyle that their target audience lives.

We in the social media marketing/pr world spend a lot of time preaching about: 1) Monitor the landscape and know who your audience is and 2) Select the tools that appropriate for your strategies.

Pepsi has done precisely those things, and as you said, went one step further by responding in the very same tool (Twitter) where the negativity was being generated. Further, the younger, edgier crowd (AMP target audience) doesn't even participate in Twitter all that much, according to the latest stats from Mashable.

If we are going to preach it, then we have to stand by it, even when there's some objectionable aspect to it.

Davina K. Brewer

Just caught the interview with @skydiver and agreed with his comments: no way to please everyone; anything "edgy" will offend plenty; and yes they went over the top with some of the details and features of the app but that's going after that "target" audience. Pepsi will take some heat, but will not suffer (and this was the first time I learned of this "controversy").

My other quick reaction: why hasn't Apple been tagged with any flack (yet)? The App Store approval nightmare stories abound as to what does and does not get approved for reasons passing understanding, yet somehow this app passes muster. Not sure about that, but Apple will need to do something.

Kevin Dugan

Davina and Jeremy - Thanks for your feedback. I think there is a large audience out there that is in the same camp as Peter Shankman and us. I'm being contacted by reporters to talk more about this so clearly it's struck a nerve. But I think ultimately, Pepsi knows what its doing.

Little Wingman

Not surprised at Pepsi, but pretty much par for the course regarding Apple. Our LittleWIngman app took nine months to get approved by Apple, but finally did -- and it has NO objectionable content. In fact, it's a custom pick up line generator that works for all gender types. (http://tinyurl.com/mp9nss)

Nine months for the little guy whose app is non-offensive, but Pepsi zips through the process? With an app that's PROVEN to be offensive to the public?

What does that tell you?

Mary T.

You should be reading Jezebel:

Mary T.

PS They should also be failed for that hideous eighth grade-level artwork! What is with that one woman's left thigh -- does it end in mid-air?

Kevin Dugan

Mary - Thanks for commenting (miss you!). The illustrations added to my theory that they knew they would be raising some ire with people outside their target market. They note it was lighthearted and I think it was for their consumer. But we aren't their consumer.

Promotional Products

That is an epic FAIL, that belongs on the BadPitch Blog. I think this shows how volatile social media can be at times. You are putting yourself out there and if consumers don't appreciate it they will make sure that others know about it.

Caity Lothamer

I am currently a Journalism student at The University of Kansas, and I cannot believe they acctually went through with this! I am still learning about effective marketing stratgies, but this just seems trashy. Although, I can also see how it could have been effective. It seems like they were trying to target a younger male audience and after interacting with this target on campus on a daily basis, I could see how some of them might enjoy this application and find it humerous. So in that sense, I would say Amp accomplished what they were trying to do, and even if they didnt they still recieved attention even if it was bad attention. Not saying I support what Amp did but I can see what they were trying to do.

Michelle S-Humber

Frankly, I'm not surprised. With the number of aps out there, and with the level of competition that AMP has, it would appear they're feeling the economic-heat to get word out about its product, regardless of who it offends. It's an undeniable fact; sex sells. The fact that AMP decided to push boundries with its product to demean women to 'make a sale' in the process is almost, well, expected. Red Bull's advertisements feature women who are drawn to the "wings" that their man receives from drinking the product; is advertisement that breaks women down into categories and then analyzed on how to get at them any better? Probably not.

The arguement is, is that aps are supposed to be fun and something like this, a game with a - let's call it a dating scorecard - is probably not all that uncommon. In fact, it's something that will attract AMP's target demographic so by doing so, they will achieve what they aspired to - garner the attention of males into purchasing its product. One could also argue that the application itself is insulting and demeans women, but the truth is - I would likely presume a woman had a hand in creating the application itself. Women know women better then men. We also know, with the assistance no doubt, from men on the marketing team, how to reach our target while achieving more attention from outside sources. This is something AMP managed to garner, additional publicity for their product BECAUSE it was so controversial. You yourself were compelled to download it, simply because you needed to understand what they were doing - and others likely will download the application just for the very same reason.

It's smart marketing, in a dumb way. Got the message out, got the product awareness; took a risk with the public, and profited likely because of it. I had never heart of AMP before this product. I now have. Success?


Kevin, Appreciate the thoughtfulness of your post but I believe it misses the key point. Even if the target audience for THIS app is not offended, half of the target audience of Pepsi probably would be to some degree. When you let this type of mentality thrive, it says something about the company overall. Women think more holistically about the relationships they have with their brands and companies that market to women need to understand that if they want to thrive. Will I boycott Pepsi? Well, I'll think twice before making the next purchase. And I have and will generate discussion about this example, which is probably worse.

Marissa Mendel

As a PR student personally interested in how food and beverage companies communicate with and market to their consumers, I found this post especially interesting. I had not heard of this controversy before reading your post and I agree with you that AMP did a good job of taking responsibility and reaching its intended audience with its Twitter apology. I do see your point that it is important to consider the app's target audience when criticizing it, but have to wonder if AMP thought about the effect on its parent brand and Pepsi's differing target consumers before launching the app.

Melissa H

Shouldn't PR be done in good taste? This is just plain offensive. There are many ways to target their audience, but of course they choose the most misogynistic way. Yeah, so they responded in a nice way, yet, this app still exists. Although I have not heard of this controversy before, I think that recurring cases of this marketing will corrode not only the brand, but our society as a whole. Categorizing women and bragging about their exploits with them is good for no one. I think PR has a responsibility to be tasteful, and other Pepsi consumers not in this campaign's target audience, could lead to more PR efforts to save face if they catch wind of this.

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