Sioux Falls, SD Pepsi is the latest advertiser dealing with the aftermath of a politically-charged commercial.
The company just pulled a controversial spot featuring a police protest and reality TV star Kendall Jenner which many criticized online.
After the Pepsi commercial aired, there was intense backlash on all sides of the political spectrum. The company has since apologized, saying they ‘intended to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding, but clearly missed the mark’. Or did they?
“I don't talk about Pepsi everyday but now that they’re in the news they're getting a lot of free promotion, whether it’s good or it’s bad, they are getting their name out there,” Anna Haecherl with Media One said.
Local advertisers say these bold political statements are becoming common in national campaigns like this year's super bowl.
“They're always after more buzz,” Lawrence & Schiller President & CEO Scott Lawrence said. “What they want to do is get some commercial out there that will….go viral.”
But those bold statements also come with a big risk.
“You also take the risk of possibly losing customers,” Haecherl said.
“It’s a very turbulent time right now and you're always going to put yourself at risk if you align one way or the other, in terms of how your company wants to position with advertising,” Lawrence said.
It is a risk most local advertisers are not willing to take.
“I wouldn't touch it with a 10-foot-pole,” Haecherl said. “You're going to possibly completely polarize part of your customer base; it’s definitely a touchy subject, it’s like sitting around the dinner table you don't discuss religion or politics with your friends and you probably shouldn't do it with your customers either if you want to keep everyone happy.”
Instead, most local ads you see will focus on a specific product or company.
“Most local ads are going to tell you what type of experience the advertiser is going to provide the consumer,” Lawrence said. “They’re driving the purchase decision, if it’s a Taco John’s ad and the new pork quesadilla taco, we want to understand the benefits of that taco for them to stop in a purchase the product.”
Both local advertising companies say they have never had a client ask to make a political statement in their advertisement. On the national level, they say it could be both companies and advertising agencies driving the trend of bringing politics into advertising.
The politics in business trend does not stop at advertising; national companies are also making bold public policy announcements that help drive the conversation, good or bad, around their company or brand.