Here’s Why Pepsi Got It Wrong

Pepsi is under a lot of fire today after they released a new commercial starring Kendall Jenner that aired on the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s untimely assassination.

The commercial shows a crowd of various ethnicities, protesting/parading through the streets when they reach a police line. At first, the officers look angry at the protesters. Until, sweet Kendall gives one of them a Pepsi and all is saved.

From a marketing/PR standpoint I can clearly see the intent of this commercial. However, here are 3 reasons Pepsi got it wrong and guidelines for you to follow to avoid the same PR crisis.

1. Why Kendall Jenner?

I love the Kardashian/Jenner clan just as much as the next twenty-something year old woman. However, Kendall Jenner is the last person that should have been chosen for this commercial. According to Pepsi, their intent was to display unity, peace, and understanding. There are plenty of young, well known activists who could have been a great lead for this commercial.


If you’re going to use current events to market your brand, make sure you have complete understanding of the issues and ask yourself: Would someone be offended by what I’m doing? Who would be a great fit to get my point across?

2. Check the dates

MLK is by far one of the most prominent persons in not just black history, but American history. He was fatally shot on April 4, 1968 but his legacy continues to live on. I want to truly believe this was an honest mistake by the team at Pepsi. Bernice King also had some words for the company.


Before launching a major campaign or planning an event, check the dates. Make sure there are not any other major or annual events happening during the duration of your campaign or event. If there are other things going on that would conflict with your campaign, change your date or reach out and try for a collaboration.

3. If you’re going to do it, do it.

What exactly are the protesters in this commercial protesting or marching about? According to Pepsi it was unity and peace. If the company truly wanted to touch on these issues, why not have signs in the commercial that say “Black Lives Matter” or “Love is Love”? Seems like the company was afraid to truly go for what they were trying to say. If that was the case, they should have left this topic alone all together.


As a brand, touching on social issues is not a bad thing if you are prepared for the consequences. Yes, you may lose some of your fan base or your customers. But if it is something you truly believe in, why do you care? If you aren’t going to truly embrace a social cause, then it is best you don’t speak on it at all.

Take it from Giuesppe vs Nicki Minaj – once the internet gets involved, there can be major issues for your brand. Be mindful when launching marketing campaigns and be sure respect others in the process.

TJE Communications is a digital marketing agency set out to level the playing field for small, women owned businesses. For business inquiries, please contact

PR Crisis: Nicki Minaj vs Giuseppe

Nicki Minaj, rapper and designer, is known for her risque word play and has no reservation when it comes to putting someone in their place.

This morning was no different when she put designer Giuseppe on blast for creating a sneaker line using her name but refused to answer her calls to discuss (stated Minaj on Twitter).

According to Minaj, when she met Giuseppe Zanotti, he told her she inspired him and at that point designed a sneaker for Minaj. Since then, she has never been in talks with the designer about creating a full line using her name or likeness.

As a Barb myself, I can tell you that Minaj’s followers have not and will not take this lightly. They have already began to troll Giuseppe on social media using the hashtag #GiuseppeWhatsGood

This brings up a great point that every business owner needs to understand. You cannot use someone’s likeness without their knowledge or permission and get away with it. As a business owner, you are fully responsible for the repercussions that may come with doing so. With Giuseppe being an international brand, you would assume they would have thought this one through. Apparently not!

Another thing to consider as a business owner is having a crisis PR plan in place in the event that an incident were to occur. The scenarios would depend on the industry you work in. For example, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams went through a PR crisis when listeria was found in their food on two separate occasions. In this case, they were proactive and had a plan in place to combat this. Two things to consider when creating a crisis plan for your business:

    1. What are common risks that I may face in this industry?
    2. What will be my first action items if said events were to occur?

As for Giuseppe, Minaj has given the company 24 hours to call her and from there, it is still in the air as to what will happen. For now she is running a poll and allowing her followers to dictate the fate of Giuseppe.

TJE Communications is a digital marketing agency set out to level the playing field for small, women owned businesses. For business inquiries, please contact

The harsh reality of owning a business 

We all want to be a Cinderella story. The business that booms with overnight success and millions of happy clientele. 

Throughout the years I have worked with many different people but they all have the same goal in mind: to be #1. Whether that means ranking #1 or being the best at wherever their craft may be. 

The harsh reality of owning a business is that it never works that way. But here’s what you can do in the meantime:

Be realistic

If you have a brand new website with a brand new domain, you will not rank #1 on Google tomorrow. It’s impossible. It’s great to set high standards for yourself but you should also set realistic goals.

Money can’t buy success

Sure money helps your business significantly, but throwing money at your problems won’t fix it. When facing an issue with your business, think about how you can restructure your goals versus how much money you can spare for a temporary fix.

Invest in yourself

No matter your industry, if you’re not constantly surrounding yourself with like minded people then you’re already losing. Don’t get too comfortable with your own knowledge. Join networking groups and organizations that relate to your business to expand your mind. 

Be patient

Remember, for most of us it won’t happen overnight. You have to keep your goals in mind and continue to work hard. 

As a business owner myself, I still struggle to accept that I will not be the #1 marketing agency for small and women owned businesses tomorrow. However, I understand that with hardwork, patience, and the willingness to invest in myself, there’s no telling where I will be years from now!