After the success of Pepsi's MaxIt Jobs campaign last year, there were high hopes for Colenso's follow-up, Bromitment. But, by the power of Facebook, the vocal minority have got their way and convinced Frucor/Frucor's PR agency to bow to online pressure and withdraw a prize offering a trip to the running of the bulls in Spain from the campaign.
Last night, following a story that had appeared in the Herald, Pepsi posted this note on the Facebook page: "Good debate guys! We understand Running with the Bulls isn’t for everyone. And we respect that many of you are bromitted to animal welfare. So here are some suggestions if ya want to make a stand against this (approx) 700 year-old festival: (a). Select one of the other fantastic (no bull) Bromitment experiences on offer. (b). Choose ‘Running with the Bulls’ and if you win… take your protest to Pamplona. (c). If you and ya mates win the ‘Running with Bulls’ prize but would rather donate the money to an animal welfare cause, we Pepsi Max, bromit to do that. Thanks for being passionate. And best of luck with whatever bromitment ya make."
161 comments later, many of them claiming the company was shooting itself in the foot by endorsing a cruel pursuit like bull fighting, others saying it shouldn't listen to the complaining wowsers, Aisha Daji Punga, Pepsi's commercial director at Frucor New Zealand released this statement today.
At Frucor, we set ourselves the highest possible standards. We take social responsibility seriously. We’ve been running a promotion in New Zealand for Pepsi entitled “Bromitment” targeted at Kiwi guys. We were offering a chance to win an epic adventure, with one prize option being running with the bulls in Pamplona.
We now recognise that a proportion of our target market is offended by this type of activity, which they perceive as cruel to animals. For this we wholeheartedly apologise. Frucor and Pepsi in no way support animal cruelty.
We apologise unreservedly for our misjudgement. As a result we have pulled the option to run with the bulls completely from the competition.
We became increasingly aware of the issue via feedback from customers and via social media over the last few days. Our initial response yesterday evening via social media did not include withdrawing from the competition. We now recognise that withdrawing is the right thing to do.
No doubt the ghosts of social media firestorms past like Qantas and Cadbury were ringing. But, once again, it shows that the consumers are runnin' tings. And if you get into social media, you've got to be prepared to take the good with the bad.
As a replacement prize, we suggest a trip to India, where the winners will be forced to revere the sacred rubbish-eating cows for days on end. And, in the spirit of tenuous connections, here's a funny gaffe made recently by the Herald on Sunday.