Twitter users mock controversial Pepsi ad with Arab Spring jokes

Arab Twitter users are linking the clip to the Arab Spring protests which flared up in 2011. (Photo courtesy: Twitter)
Updated 10 April 2017

Twitter users mock controversial Pepsi ad with Arab Spring jokes

DUBAI: As the controversy over Pepsi’s ill-fated advert with Kendall Jenner mounts, with the beverage giant pulling the ad and apologizing on Wednesday, Twitter users are making a host of Arab Spring-related jokes.
Arab social media users have taken to the Internet in droves after the advert garnered international backlash online.
The ad shows Kendall Jenner, a member of the “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” reality TV family, stepping away from a modeling shoot to join a crowd of smiling, young protesters. The protesters cheer after Jenner hands a can of Pepsi to a police officer, who takes a sip.
However, social media users slammed the clip, saying it made light of the recent spate of protests in the US.

“When you imagine the time period that they were conceiving shooting this, it's easy to imagine that the team at Pepsi thought they were making a courageous global epic about unity during a time of rising racial-nationalist, xenophobic populism,” CEO Mark DiMassimo of DiMassimo Goldstein, a New York-based branding agency, told Arab News.

“Celebrity, Thailand, corporate America, the in-house agency, good intentions [were] all major distortion fields - sometimes great marketers make great errors,” he added.

“The protest movement (in the advert), with echoes of Black Lives Matter, is presented as something light and fun, like a big old frat party that's open to everyone … There's flirting and hook-ups and unlikely musical collaborations and a lot of smiles. One wonders why these people are protesting when they are so happy. In the end, Kendall Jenner hands the Pepsi to the least threatening looking cop ever, and his smirk is reminiscent of the final frame of a Mentos “Freshmaker” commercial or that look on mom’s face at the end of an old Sunny D spot. Cheesy.”

After initially defending the advert, Pepsi on Wednesday issues an apology, stating: “Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding… Clearly, we missed the mark, and we apologize.”

“If they had been ready to go the full [Donald] Trump playbook and stand behind it and then double down with more action... I still think they could have gotten a lot out of it,” DiMassimo said, adding: “Great advertising is a reflection of the good will that already exists amongst the target audience… I think Pepsi overestimated the good will of this new generation.”


In a sign of the supposed fading of good will, Arab Twitter users are linking the clip to the Arab Spring protests which flared up in 2011.
“Now we know the solution to oppressive Middle East governments is Pepsi. The problem with the Arab Spring is that it was powered by “Bibsi’,” one user joked, referring to the typically Arab pronunciation of the word “Pepsi.”

“Pepsi would’ve made the Arab Spring revolutions a lot more loving and less violent,” another user tweeted.

Another user sighed “if only the Arab spring had Pepsi cola.”

“Tiananmen Square and the Arab Spring should’ve never happened if they had Kendall Jenner and a can of @pepsi,” one Twitter user surmised.

PepsiCo. Inc. had previously said the ad was created by its in-house team and that it would “be seen globally across TV and digital” platforms.
It initially described the spot as featuring “multiple lives, stories and emotional connections that show passion, joy, unbound and uninhibited moments. No matter the occasion, big or small, these are the moments that make us feel alive.” That description was also derided on social media.
The Purchase, New York, company had stood by the ad late Tuesday. By Wednesday, it was apologizing to Jenner for putting her “in this position.”

 

(With the Associated Press)


Global Amazon marketing agency Podean launches in Middle East

Updated 29 September 2020

Global Amazon marketing agency Podean launches in Middle East

  • Business aims to provide brands with the tools to boost revenues from online sales to 230 million people in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Turkey

DUBAI: Global Amazon agency and marketplace consultancy Podean has officially launched in the Middle East, with its regional headquarters in Dubai.

The agency said it is the first independent global Amazon services provider to offer end-to-end marketplace marketing solutions to international and local brands in the region. As e-commerce grows rapidly in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, Amazon is the leading player and presents a formidable sales channel for brands that establish themselves early, it added.

Research conducted by Podean this month found that 45 percent of adults in the UAE regularly shop on Amazon. The most popular category is food and groceries, which 26 percent of respondents said they had shopped for in the past month, followed closely by electronics and home appliances, which 25 percent had purchased.

The research also found that the benefits consumers value most are best prices, speed of delivery and range of products — all of which are factors that play to Amazon’s strengths.

Podean said its arrival in the region will provide brands with the tools they need to drive incremental revenues among a combined population of 230 million people in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Turkey.

In the UAE alone, e-commerce is expected to grow by 30 percent from 2020 to 2021, and consumer confidence in Saudi Arabia ranks as the second-highest in the world.

Podean boasts that it can offer brands strategic consulting and holistic Amazon retail and advertising solutions, supported by its global network of experts. Internationally, the agency said it counts more than 80 leading brands among its clients, who can leverage the company’s experience across all categories and facets of marketplace marketing, including retail, analytics, logistics/supply chain, creative, content, voice and media management.

The agency said it can also provide non-endemic brands — which don’t sell physical products in the marketplace — with the ability to drive optimal marketing results by leveraging display and video advertising through Amazon’s demand-side platform.

“We are excited to be launching in the Middle East, a sophisticated consumer market experiencing strong e-commerce growth,” said Podean founder Mark Power. “While the world continues to face uncertainty due to COVID-19, we know that Amazon’s model will meet these changing consumer needs.

“Our company is uniquely positioned to help brands grow their revenues in the Middle East, and to support their global ambitions. The addition of this office further reinforces Podean’s reputation as the leading global Amazon agency network.”

Paul Hart, described by Podean as an experienced business leader who has been building partnerships with brands in the region for 13 years, is the managing director of the business’s new MENA operation.

“I am delighted to be joining a dynamic company (that is) shaking things up in the Amazon services space and running at the speed of Amazon,” he said. “Through Podean’s global network we are able to provide the experience, expertise, specialist resources, tools and technologies to our MENA clients that no other agency in the region has access to. I cannot wait to drive incremental sales for the many great brands in the Middle East.”

Podean said it will also be launching in the region a number of proprietary tools, including JourneyTM, which it says is the first Amazon media-mix-modelling and channel-planning tool that optimizes investment across all Amazon advertising products.

It will also launch ProphetTM, which it describes as an analysis framework that optimizes brands’ Amazon business beyond just return on ad spend/advertising cost of sale, and addresses all critical elements to drive success, from strategy to supply chain to content and media.

Podean said that the combination of both platforms has helped clients increase revenues by upwards of 40 percent and profits by 60 percent.

Podean’s global headquarters is in New York City and, in addition to Dubai, it has offices in Los Angeles, Sydney, London and Singapore.