Archive - Oct 2009

October 29th

Amp App Ack Ah Ah

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Memo to Pepsi: YOU ARE DUMB.

Man, it must be rough to be Pepsi. Promote the homosexual lifestyle by putting gay people in their ads or supporting their gay employees, and Donald Wildmon gets his inbred army to say they're not drinking it anymore. Sure, Pepsi got most of those people back when they changed their logo and they all thought it was a brand new sody pop, but still, it can't have been easy.

And then, when Pepsi promotes the HETEROSEXUAL lifestyle, mainly through a series of cartoonish, frat-boy stereotypes of women, they get slammed by, well, a bunch of sane and reasonable people who were wondering what the fuck they were thinking. It's like a no-win scenario for Pepsi, if you discount all the obvious and easy ways they could have won.

So how did one of the world's largest providers of IV high-fructose corn syrup screw up? An iPod app, of course*. Apps are the big new thing in marketing, but they do provide certain hurdles for advertising types. Most advertising just has to have sound, video, and words. Apps have to, you know. Do something. And as they desperately try to synergize the user experience with their brand's lifestyle profile, certain... boundaries can be crossed.

The brand in question is Pepsi's AMP, one more tiny, urine-filled can amongst all the other, tiny, urine-filled cans that make up the red-hot "energy drink" market. Want something that tastes like rancid Mountain Dew and makes your eyeballs vibrate while your blood pressure doubles? Then you have many, many options to choose from. Pepsi wants you to choose AMP. And since the core of marketing is no more sophisticated than the audience for that marketing, Pepsi decided to help you get laid.

At least, for sufficiently loose definitions of "laid", "you", and "help". Before it was pulled from the App Store following the easily predictable kerfluffle and uproar, "AMP UP Before You Score" provided a handy**, multi-touch enabled**, pocket** guide to 24 types of women (or possibly THE 24 types of women), with suggested pickup lines and "witty" descriptions.

So that you can adequately judge the class level of this app, allow me to list as many of the 24 types as I could find: Rebound Girl, Aspiring Actress, Married, Twins, Women's Studies Major, Cougar, Foreign Exchange Student, Treehugger, Punk Girl, Sorority Girl.

Now, that's pretty bad, but clearly there's a place in the world for insulting stereotypes used as entertainment for masses of uneducated consumers. I mean, look at the debut ratings for Jeff Dunham. But remember what I said upstream about letting the user do something? ACTUAL APP DESCRIPTION TIME!

"You got it? Flaunt it. Keep your buddies in the loop on email, Facebook or Twitter."

That sounds innocuous enough at first glance, right? I mean, I'm pretty sure the toilet paper I just bought now has Facebook and Twitter integration***. But what, exactly, are you keeping your buddies in the loop on? Your "Boast List", in which you can track the names, locations, and details of your sexual conquests. Which is a bad idea on so many levels - first, because a sexual conquest posted to Facebook and Twitter has all the veracity of a Canadian girlfriend****, and second, if you actually did "score" with someone and tweeted it, they're going to see that Twitter, hunt you down, beat the living shit out of you, and steal your iPod.

I will not even deign to repeat Pepsi's first "apology". All you need to know is that it was delivered via Twitter, and replaced "to" with "2" the way only marketing dudes do anymore. Pepsi appears to have learned its lesson, but marketing dudes never do, so expect to see scenarios like this one play out over and over again in the years to come.

*I'll start calling them iPhone apps when someone starts giving me sixty bucks a month to do so.

**If you'll excuse the term.

***STATUS UPDATE: Feeling wiped.

****OK, I know this is a lot of footnotes, but one possible reading of that sentence is that I was cheated on by a Canadian, and now think all Canadian women are lying whores. I am, instead, referring to the classic nerd boast of having a girlfriend... in Canada... that you wouldn't know. And I like the sentence too much to change it.