No wonder there's been a backlash to PepsiCo's "apology" for the iPhone app promoting its Amp Energy drink that promises to help men "score" with different types of women by offering pick-up lines and the ability to track conquests.
Responding to the deluge of criticism the app has drawn for being sexist and stereotyping women, Amp and Pepsi issued a mea culpa via Twitter, reading "Our app tried to show the humorous lengths guys go 2 to pick up women. We apologize if it's in bad taste & appreciate your feedback."
The company also attached the #pepsifail hashtag to the tweet, inviting further reaction. At the same time, a PepsiCo spokesperson noted the app is available only to those 17 and up and indicated the company has no plans to pull the app over the controversy it's generated.
So, what's the company apologizing for on Twitter? The whole idea of campaigns designed to appeal to the young-guy audience they target is to revel in bad taste and encourage crude behavior--to celebrate the frat-boy within.
And if they generates some controversy -- just enough to boost wider awareness but not necessarily torpedo it -- then so much the better. Isn't that what Crispin Porter & Bogusky had in mind with the Burger King "Whopper Sacrifice" campaign on Facebook, before it ran afoul of the social network's terms of service?
More direct comparisons have also been drawn to campaigns for Unilver's Axe deoderant geared to a similar male demographic in touting its ability to attract women. But consultant David Spark of Spark Media Solutions concludes that the Axe spots are funnier and more satirical by creating a completely over-the-top male fantasy.
"This one [the Amp app] didn't really poke fun at male behavior, even though that was AMP's tweeted intention," wrote Spark on the Intertainment Media company blog. "Rather it stereotyped women in an often unflattering way."
Even so, he reported that based on the "latest numbers" from Joshua Karpf, manager, Web communications for PepsiCo, the Amp app released last week had only been downloaed by 150 people as of Friday. But as of Wednesday, the app created by Interpublic's R/GA unit had soared to more than 17,000 downloads.
So Pepsi's non-apology apology Twitter apology appears aimed at acknowledging the controversy while maintaining the buzz the app has generated online and beyond. But if half the population ends up boycotting Pepsi products, you can bet the Amp app will disappear from the App Store faster than you can say "Come here often?"