Pepsi, through culture-influence agency Epiphany (headed by former MTV veejay Coltrane Curtis) launched a limited edition shoe with Gourmet. The relationship is part of a new strategy by Pepsi — buying culture. Wait, that’s not new. Nonetheless, commenters on HypeBeast where the kicks were first displayed seem to agree: the collaboration feels icky.
Here’s a sip of what they’re saying (note: HB is known as a site for haters):
— “I really don’t hate on anything but pepsi x gourmet is a BAD IDEA!”
— “Like anyone really wants a Pepsi Shoe? Whoever was behind this marketing move should also get fired. As if that will make consumers want to drink more Pepsi.”
— “I would not wear a pair of shoes with a corporate logo on them? Skip that ish!!!!!”
One of the biggest challenges in influence marketing is maintaining your status as an influencer. It’s a fine line to ride, and usually collaborations like this earn “sellout” ratings from the people who actually own said culture. In this case, shoes, which in the last decade have blown up.
Regardless of that point, the Pepsi shoe is a definite fail. It’s not intended for market (yet), rather as a small piece of cultural iconography. But the only entities that can expect to benefit are Epiphany and Gourmet, by way of a check from Pepsi.
This all goes back to the main point about marketing that major corporations don’t seem to get: they are not people. The trend we’ve seen over the last five years of brands trying to act more like individuals is time and time again proven naive by campaigns like this. Same goes for culture — like personality, you can’t buy it — it has to be organic, plain and simple.
So what’s the answer? That’s for you to figure out, but my gut tells me the occasional funny/heart-warming spot and coupons. Sad as it may be, it’s the best a can of carbonated sugar water can do.