This Pepsi-Branded COVID-19 Testing Banner Was Maybe Not the Best Idea
Today marks 10 weeks since President Donald Trump declared a national emergency to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, and throughout that period, we have chronicled numerous gestures that have proven touching and hopeful. While it would be wonderful to count every bit of news as a positive, a gaffe by Pepsi that found the company including its branding on a COVID-19 testing banner has reminded us that, well, these are certainly confusing times, even for marketers.
What absolute dystopian hell world are we living in. pic.twitter.com/Srnot6ZUji
— Firr (@Firr) May 20, 2020
Near Walmart’s Orlando Supercenter #908, Florida residents can learn how to proceed in the face of the pandemic thanks to a testing site. Even needing to ponder having to undergo testing can cause someone to be anxious. Enter the Pepsi-emblazoned banner into the equation, and we could appreciate how fearful individuals could transform into angry people who feel corporations, despite their promise that “We’re all in this together,” are really just out to make a buck.
As if the presence of the Pepsi logo and a glass of soda weren’t enough, the banner also includes the “That’s what I like” tagline that the brand often calls on. Two days after the curious sign made the news cycle, Business Insider has declared that it no longer appears, leading a PepsiCo representative to tab the matter “an unfortunate mistake” that involved the failure of local sales associates to follow “proper approval protocols.”
— Tagggly (@Tagggly) May 22, 2020
We wonder just how the aforementioned associates managed to go against Pepsi’s protocols and how the end product received the go-ahead, though the company attributed it to “speed to get this important testing message up” so that Floridians could have further hope in their fight against COVID-19. Business Insider notes that Pepsi has already successfully revamped its advertising as the nation fights back against COVID-19, pulling campaigns like "#Summergram" that show people outside. This banner slipped through the cracks, but it's a good reminder that brands should be extra careful in their marketing for the foreseeable future.