Madison College Week Four Steve Project for Social Media Marketing

COBB-ED—In 1992, Pepsi launched a bottle cap lottery in the Philippines that sparked death and rioting. Pepsi printed the winning number on select bottle caps resulting in a printing error.

After investigating the fiasco deeper, the results from a Google search revealed Pepsi resolved their public relations disaster by offering 500 pesos ($18.50 U.S. currency) as a gesture of goodwill after receiving numerous lawsuits.

The lottery printer published the number 349 redeeming 480,000 caps with a sum of $8.5 million paid out to date to fix the issue.

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The Aftermath

The Google search eventually turned into a discovery session uncovering a blog with a picture of the bottle cap by the Representative. The discovery revealed an in depth look at the third word marketing viral travesty. In response, Pepsi did not want to own their printing mistake.

A simple two-party audit prior to publishing could have saved the company millions. In the print industry, managers schedule the work, reporters find the anecdotes and write the rough copy, and editors ultimately represent decisions on behalf of the brand.

The mistake cost Pepsi 150,000 pesos payable to the Department of Trade and Industry. Rioters tossed a grenade in anger into a distribution plant killing three employees.

The international decision by the United States’ decision to pull out bases in the Philippines already had the nation in a state of anger and upheaval that witnessed a spike in violence once the lottery mistake unveiled the payout would be null and void.

The core issue of the Pepsi bottle cap lottery marketing campaign elevated an entire nation who believed Pepsi’s word. Pepsi made the marketing mistake of flashing large sums of money across a third world nation. Ultimately, the strategy cost millions of dollars, the loss of life, and the upheaval of a nation.

Publishing Standards of Print

The root of the issue stemmed from inventory control. As the CEO, the first item up for business would have sought to fly to the Philippines to host a press conference to take responsibility for my brand.

The company hid behind the mistake made by the supply chain who did not conduct a test run. Back in the ‘80s, Pepsi initiated the taste test challenge to market their product against their rival Coca cola.

The first run of bottles, let us say 100 for example, could have been sent to a taste test challenge to write off for tax deductibility. When I worked in the papermaking industry, we called these items “broke.”

Broke consists of the first reel of paper that comes off an order change. The paper can be repulped, sold to other paper mills for pennies on the dollar, or stored for making items like pellets for stoves.

As a print editor and past general manager of broadcast for Clarion Radio, my job created checklists, open channels of communication and lines of sight, and to set up meetings to triple-check items in question. Pepsi just ran the campaign unethically as a lottery.

The first mistake started in the approval of the brainstorm. They should not have used the parameters of a lottery on the grounds money creates conflict amongst poverty. Pepsi toyed with the hearts and dreams of the oppressed.

Winning the lottery is like opening a portal through an ecstatic form of trance and possession. Pepsi invoked a demon that possessed an entire nation to revolt and commit acts of violence believing their prayers were answered and would never be poor.

As the CEO, I would enforce a two-party audit like print newspapers use to regulate the campaign by opening every 100th bottle in lots of 100 checking the first bottle of each run prior to packaging.

Three opened bottles would have revealed the printing mistake. Ultimately, the printer is responsible. The mistake made was printing inhouse. Outsourcing would have freed Pepsi from any responsibility and could have sued for damages.

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