Pepsi Executive Is Not So Happy With His Agencies

By Patrick Coffee 

Have you been keeping up with this week’s Association of National Advertising “Masters of Marketing” conference in sunny Orlando? Of course you have.

One of the more interesting stories to come out of the event concerns a Wednesday presentation by PepsiCo’s Brad Jakeman, who is president of the company’s global beverage group. It was a very contentious, even combative, speech–and it made him the ANA’s top influencer for the week on the social medias.

In short, he thinks agencies aren’t pulling their weight…and that they need to either catch up with current trends or get dumped. Both AdAge and Adweek covered his speech with different key quotes/takeaways. Here are some highlights.


On terminology:

  • Jakeman said people should stop using certain terms, including “agency” and “advertising,” that keep the industry mired in the past.
  • “Can we stop using the term advertising, which is based on this model of polluting [content]?”
  • “There is no such thing as digital marketing. There is marketing — most of which happens to be digital.”
  • “This is a disruption that has happened around us, and we are still talking about 30-second television ads. We fundamentally haven’t changed.”

On UGC versus traditional creative:

  • “[The current model] assumes that paid media is the only way to build brands…[but UGC] doesn’t cost us a cent.”

On the global AOR model:

  • “…global alignment agency is a dinosaur concept…I am really worried that this model is not going to bend — it’s going to break if we don’t really think about how to innovate.”

On diversity:

  • “I am sick and tired as a client of sitting in agency meetings with a whole bunch of white straight males talking to me about how we are going to sell our brands that are bought 85% by women.”

Ouch. Jakeman elaborated a bit on that one in a Twitter exchange with us yesterday in response to a question about where innovation comes from.

We’re fairly sure that most agencies would claim to be all of those things, but Pepsi wants more. It seems to want its brands to be “disruptors” in some big, headline-grabbing way.

Again, from Jakeman’s speech:

“Have we done anything with our brands that is in any way as remarkable as the way Caitlin Jenner, and that phenomenon, has been managed?”

The answer would be…no. But it’s a little tough for a soda company to get as much media attention as an Olympic athlete turned reality TV star turned transgender celebrity.

Obviously, Mr. Jakeman does not speak for every client–nor does he speak for the entire PepsiCo organization. And CMOs have been saying similar things for a while. But if this is an example of the way one high-powered executive sees the current state of agency/client relationships…