Published on July 24th, 20090
Blog: Pepsi’s PR nightmare
The rather disturbing footage of Michael Jackson’s Pepsi ad accident in 1984 brings with it a whole heap of issues for the drinks giant.
The incident – over 25 years ago – has been cited in some media quarters as being Jackson’s turning point. The time when he began his long running dependence on prescription pain killers. The time when the magic began to rub off. And it’s all Pepsi’s fault.
Carefully worded statements have been issued by Pepsi’s comms team who are clearly in crisis mode. The statement emphasises the drinks giant’s positive relationship with Jackson in the time following the incident. And well they should. Without a robust programme of damage limitation over the coming weeks and months, Pepsi could forever be linked with playing a key role in the demise of The King of Pop and perhaps the nearest thing the US comes to royalty
A salutary lesson in the pitfalls of celebrity endorsement. Once a brand gets married to a superstar, that relationship never completely ends. Even 25 years of water under the bridge a brand can still become the centre of a story. One that can have real and lasting implications for the brand’s reputation.