Should Pepsi Pull Its Amp App?


NEW YORK PepsiCo has found itself at a crossroads regarding its now infamous "Amp Up Before You Score" iPhone app.

The NC-17 rated application offers pick-up lines, strategies for picking up married women, a scorecard for sexual conquests and other edgy content.

After PepsiCo received complaints that the app reinforced stereotypes about women, the company tweeted an apology as well as posted an explanation on Amp's Facebook page. Still, the app remains available much to the disdain of some. (See also: "Does Anyone Not Dislike Amp's iPhone App?")
"The app hasn't been pulled so the apology is disingenuous, is it not?" said Lynne Johnson, svp, social media for the Advertising Research Foundation. "It's time to pull it and go back to the drawing board."

Amp is currently the No. 4 selling energy drink in terms of volume. At a 9 percent share of the category for the first half of the year in major retail channels, per Beverage Digest, it is far behind Monster, Red Bull and Rockstar. Still, unlike most carbonated beverages, it is actually growing. Its volume was up 4 percent for the first half.

The brand has long relied on male humor to establish itself. A Super Bowl ad, for example, showed a man with jumper cables attached to his nipples.

"The bottom line is this is just another edgy way to advertise Amp," said Bill Sipper, senior partner at Cascadia Consulting. "Kudos to them for having the Associated Press and everyone talking about it. It's a good way to break out of a cluttered category. After all, we're talking about a soft drink, not nuclear waste."

John Sicher, editor, Beverage Digest said, "Amp is a product that skews to young males. This is a very edgy promotion, but it's supposed to be fun and funny. In no way is PepsiCo a company that is disrespectful to anyone."

Said Pepsi in a statement: "The application is only available to iPhone users 17 years and older who choose to opt in to the experience. It was designed to be entertaining and appeal to AMP's target. We'll continue to listen to the feedback and act accordingly." The company's earlier Twitter apology read: “Our app tried 2 show the humorous lengths guys go 2 pick up women. We apologize & appreciate your feedback. #pepsifail.”"

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