R.I.P.: The Pepsi Generation’s Oldest Spokesman Bites the Dust

Life imitates art and so, alas, does death. In Pepsi’s new TV campaign, which urges consumers to ‘Be Young. Have Fun. Drink Pepsi,’ one spot features a 93-year-old man named Herman Finberg – first seen sipping Coke at a dull wedding, then exuberantly drinking Pepsi on the beach while wearing a T-shirt with the legend, ‘Eat. Surf. Die.’ The unfortunate punch line to the story: Finberg did die, before the spot even aired. He’d gone to a hospital with a blood clot in the leg, and doctors wanted to amputate. But Finberg refused, saying he’d finally gotten some shoes that fit: ‘I got these shoes on a Pepsi shoot and I intend to wear them.’ Pepsi and BBDO considered pulling the spot, but Finberg’s family urged them to run it anyway, saying it reflected the old fellow’s sense of humor. The eulogy delivered at his funeral saluted his moment as an honorary member of the Pepsi generation: ‘He spent almost his entire life as a salesman. He sold scrap; he sold food; he sold soap and bleach; he sold advertising; and, during the last few months of his life, he sold Pepsi-Cola with the younger generation.’ Rest in peace, Mr. Finberg.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)