Digital Fail

After hearing a lot about successful digital marketing campaigns such as Coca-Colas ‘Happiness Machine’ and McDonalds new ‘Big Mac Chant Challenge’ I decided to find out a bit more about digital campaigns that failed.

I remember being told a while ago now about Pepsi having to apologise for an iPhone app they released in 2009. The public controversy this piece of digital advertising caused is something worth exploring.

Basically what happened was Pepsi, through their energy drink Amp, released an iPhone app called ‘AMP UP Before You Score’ which was designed to help guys pick up girls. It was an app that contained a list of 24 stereotypical girls and ways for guys to talk to them. The idea behind it is that when a guy is talking to a girl he would open the app and it would give him things to talk about as well as information on current events that would keep her interested in the conversation.

For example if you were talking to a ‘Tree Hugger’ girl the app would give you:

–          Pick up lines for this type of girl

–          Recent news on climate change

–          Recent tweets that where hashtagged #carbonfootprint

–          As well as using the phones GPS to recommended nearby places to take an environmental conscious girl on a date


Basically everything a guy needs in order to make conversation without it ever becoming awkward.

Watch this video for a brief rundown.

Understandably this app created quite a bit of controversy and eventually Pepsi apologised and removed the app.

However there are still two very different sides to this:

–          Firstly there are those that believe that this app is extremely distasteful and disrespectful to women. It involves stereotyping and the objectification of women which is degrading and therefore people took action.

–          Conversely there are those that say the app was extremely effective in getting Amps target market of young males to interact with the brand beyond the drink itself, the app created a complete and engaging experience for consumers, which is what digital marketing aims to do in the first place. It was argued that advertisers having been selling sex for decades and will continue to do so in the future, so why was this advertising removed?


Pepsi have been objectifying and stereotyping women in their ads for years without causing the level of controversy this app did. I’m not saying this is right or wrong but I’m curious as to why this app created such uproar that Pepsi had to publicly apologise and remove it.

After years of Pepsi advertising through sex,

what did this particular app do to create such a stir?

6 thoughts on “Digital Fail

  1. I’ve heard about this app actually. I cannot believe it made it to production, but I’m not really surprised in other ways. Women are continually objectified to sell products and that usually goes on without much comment. I think the problem in this case is that this app was highlighting the strategic creepy aspect, in an almost behind the scenes manner. There’s no half naked woman looking the right combination of sexy and innocent to take the attention away from what’s really happening. It’s just a predatory insight into the apparent male psyche…

    • Yeah I agree, this app is defiantly on the creepy side. It isn’t being used to sell the product, it is being used to help guys pick up girls. A very creepy concept.

    • Yeah going back to that saying that “any publicity is good publicity”. It certainly did get people talking about Pepsi and perhaps that’s enough to deem this app a success in their eyes.

  2. I think an app like this would have worked really well for a brand like Lynx, which is only going after a male demographic. The biggest mistake in my opinion is isolating half of your target market – and really pissing them off! It may have still worked if the images weren’t quite so derogatory. Ahh Pepsi, they won’t be making that mistake again

  3. I don’t mind the idea of the app, I think it’s a lighthearted stereotype. After all, beer brands advertise blokes as glorified gorilla’s and we don’t kick up a stink!

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