Did Pepsi’s Recent Ad Blunder Ruin Brand Perception?

  • Pepsi’s Adorescore falls from 44 to -6
  • High levels of anger and disgust replace joy and trust
  • Pepsi respond by removing “insensitive” ad

According to Forbes, 75% of a company’s value is intangible, meaning that their most valuable asset is their good name, its brand and reputation. Adoreboard measures and benchmarks brand reputation and customer perception to allow businesses to understand how their brand is performing and the key emotions their communications evoke from their customers.

Soft drinks giant Pepsi received a social media backlash this week due to the launch of their new advertising campaign featuring elite influencer Kendall Jenner. The advertisement sees the TV star turned model hand a police officer a can of Pepsi as a peace offering during a protest.

The advertisement has been heavily criticised for downplaying recent protests and making a mockery of movements that are close to many people’s hearts such as the Women’s March and Black Lives Matter. Many also thought that using a privileged supermodel to play the role of peacemaker between activists and the police is insensitive.

Here at Adoreboard we used our customer experience analytics tool Emotics to analyse over 1,000 mentions of the Pepsi campaign to understand how people reacted. The insights reveal how an advertising blunder can impact brand reputation.

Emotics uses mathematical algorithms to uncover the key topics people comment on with emotional intensity and provides an overall brand performance metric known as the Adorescore. The Adorescore is measured on a scale of -100 to 100. The higher the score, the more positive the content. (Check out our upcoming webinar outlining the complementary nature of the Adorescore to NPS here.)

Eight months ago we analysed Pepsi’s Crystal Pepsi re-launch campaign which positively impacted the brand’s reputation with an Adorescore of 44 and high levels of joy and trust.

This week, Pepsi’s reputation took a negative turn with mentions of the new Kendall Jenner campaign receiving an Adorescore of -6 alongside high levels of anger and disgust.


High levels of anger and disgust are driven by Twitter users reporting that they found the advertisement offensive and ignorant given the current social and political climate in the USA.  With police brutality and aggression at protests in the not-so-distant past, many feel that implying that a Pepsi could solve these issues is distasteful.

When compared to mentions from August 2016, the levels of joy and trust decreased by 41% and 28% respectively, while levels of rage and disgust increasing by 42% and 83% respectively.


Pepsi has removed the ad from all media and released a statement saying: “Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding. Clearly we missed the mark, and we apologise. We did not intend to make light of any serious issue. We are pulling the content and halting any further rollout. We also apologise for putting Kendall Jenner in this position.”

The ad has offended many and affected the brands reputation, however whether this damage is temporary or not remains to be seen. Many are blaming the lack of diversity in Pepsi’s own in-house advertising team and claiming the ad might have been saved by the objective view of an outside agency.

Adoreboard’s customer experience analytics tool Emotics provides a pathway to measure emotional intensity around experiences, understand the main themes driving emotional intensity and enable brands to make informed decisions to actively improve customer experience and loyalty. When negative market impact is as stark as in Pepsi’s case, it becomes obvious immediately that customer experience and brand perception are more difficult to measure but vitally important.

Watch this short video to find out more about our Emotics platform:

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