Welcome to I'm Not Buying That, the blog where we dissect the woeful mistakes of the advertising industry. I'm your host, CJ Garrett, and I view terrible ads so you don't have to.

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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Zombies and Soda: A Match Made in Heaven

You know, it's not just the little guys that make some planetary-body-sized mistakes in advertising. As a very smart man with wild hair once said, "Only two things are infinite - the universe, and human stupidity. And I'm not so sure about the universe."

(That was Einstein, by the way. Guy knew his shit.)

Today's delightfully weird example comes from Pepsi. We don't have a copy of the advert itself, but here's a picture of their logo at least. Now bear with me, dear reader - I am going somewhere with this.

Presumably that says 'Pepsi' in Chinese, but that's not important right now. You may have heard of this story, but let's recap: supposedly, when Pepsi wanted to expand into the Chinese market, they translated their famous 'Pepsi Generation' slogan in such a way that it turned into 'Pepsi: Brings your ancestors back from the dead', thus frightening the Chinese consumer market and crashing their sales until they took notice and changed it to something more kitschy and friendly.

Oh, the thought of waves of Chinese zombies guzzling Pepsi to keep going just fills my heart with bubbly happy feelings. It's such a huge shame that it's very, very likely to be total rubbish.


Well, of course big corporations make advertising mistakes - that's what I said at the start of this article. It's just not Pepsi in this case. Snopes has the whole story, and the probability that it's just a myth seems high. Pepsi never got their slogan wrong, and never mistakenly lead the people of China to believe their product could create zombies.

What really interests me about it, though, is that Pepsi haven't confirmed or denied it. They could certainly set the record straight any time they wanted, and if it were really hurting their business, you can bet your collective ass they would in a micro-second. Big corporations are like that, you know. They love their money, and not getting their money turns them into giant, whiny babies.

So, I have a theory. Pepsi haven't said anything yet because (and this will wreck your head) it's good, free advertising!

Think about it. It's a story that travels all on its own, without any effort from them. It doesn't really show their product in a bad light. It's goofy, and funny, and it gives people a 'hur, hur, dumb company' feeling without actually turning them against the company. Effective viral advertising is the pinnacle of marketing, and it's harder to nail than Cleopatra in a chastity belt, so my considered opinion here is that they would be completely INSANE to say a word about it. One mention from them that it's bogus, and all those sites and news blogs and whoever would probably stop repeating it.

Of course, there's the Snopes article, but they leave some wiggle room for it to be true. Personally, I think one of their Chinese staff noticed that the slogan could be translated that way when Pepsi were initially expanding into the market, and he said it to a friend, who said it to another friend, repeat ad infinitum, and the story found its way onto the net in the usual course of things.

...I've just realized that Pepsi may not like this article. If I stop posting, you may assume that their soda goons have found me and taken away my computer. In the meantime, I went looking for something on Amazon that can bring people back from the dead, but apparently they don't sell resurrection kits for humans. Here's one for plants instead.

CJ, over and out


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