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Pepsi Targets Controversy With Suicidal Calorie Campaign

Since debuting its latest series of advertisements, Pepsi Max might want to consider renaming itself Pepsi Maximum Controversy.

Pepsi Max, a one-calorie drink alternative to Pepsi and Diet Pepsi sodas, collaborated with agency BBDO Dusseldorf to release a new set of print ads that depict a single, lonesome calorie committing suicide, often in violent ways. They include scenes that involve hanging, a gunshot, poison, and slitting of the wrists. The tagline: "Pepsi Max. One very lonely calorie."

Since its reveal, this contentious campaign has already been picked apart by news sources, blogs, and message boards, many of which are encouraging Pepsi to pull the ads.

Do you think it should be pulled? Are these edgy ads that push the marketing envelope, or is it a tasteless, insensitive campaign that pokes fun at a grave subject?


Join The Conversation
Monique-Marie427757 Monique-Marie427757 7 years
Wow, I never even would have thought that Pepsi would post an ad like this. Suicide is something that should not be made fun of. I am all about having an open mind but I can honestly say that this even shocks me.
jeorgekant jeorgekant 7 years
Anyone with any visual discretion can distinguish significant differences between the Obama logo and the Pepsi logo. What appears to be a direct rip-off is the application of these two red, white and blue circular logos. Using the Pepsi logo as the "O" in HOPE and YES YOU CAN are obviously derivative from the Obama campaign. To deny it, Pepsi and Arnell must think the American public are a bunch of fools. It is one thing to tap into the culture zeitgeist and quite another to copy some else's concept and execution of creative work.
amandaaa amandaaa 8 years
SERIOUSLY? stupidd.
animatedpunk animatedpunk 8 years
I love the artwork and design but I don't think it should be used for a pepsi ad.
tiaramh tiaramh 8 years
I have not lost a friend or loved one, yet I still find this ad to be ridculously disturbing. How dare these people be so insensitive! Nothing funny, charming, witty or thought-provoking about this campaign... its just disgusting. As a PR and Advertising student, i wonder what sort of people approved this campaign? And who honestly thought this was a good idea..... the joke is on them.
glam-sugar glam-sugar 8 years
As someone who works in advertising, I feel it's a horrid campaign concept. I get what they were trying to say, but there are far better ways to convey loneliness while getting the point across that there's only one calorie. It's completely classless. :true:
audreystar audreystar 8 years
How is that supposed to be any better Chrstne? Marketing to teenaged boys? Unfathomable. There is absolutely NO ARGUMENT to have ever created these ads. And again it blows my mind that anyone who says they have been affected by suicide would feel anything OTHER than rage at them. :irk:
Chrstne Chrstne 8 years
I have been affected by suicide twice. It's a very tragic thing to have happen. However, Pepsi wasn't trying to offend anyone or promote suicide in any way. They weren't trying to glamorize it either. It's a marketing ploy, and if it doesn't appeal to you, then more than likely it wasn't marketed towards you. I can assume that this was marketed towards high school aged boys. High school aged boys know what suicide is, and they know it's tragic (everyone does) -- but they find this sort of dry humor appealing. I'm not offended at all -- I don't personally like it, I think it is tacky, and just all out lame, but that is how the marketing world works. It's not aimed at me to like, so, they don't care.
sugarysweet sugarysweet 8 years
kind of tasteless of them if you ask me.
Britney-Kayla Britney-Kayla 8 years
A little disturbing.
bento-barista bento-barista 8 years
That is really disturbing.
eatingcookies eatingcookies 8 years
I lost a friend of mine to suicide in August. So no, not funny. Also, Pepsi is gross. This just makes it grosser.
ohbaby7 ohbaby7 8 years
How could this ever persuade someone to actually buy pepsi? If anything, it makes me want to go out and get something high calorie to save the little guys :p
kimmie33 kimmie33 8 years
Hmmmmm...yet another reason I'll forever be a Dr. Pepper fan.
LauraLocke LauraLocke 8 years
"when did everyone in the world become so damn sensitive?" I think a better question is: when did people become so damned insensitive? Suicide is an act that hurts the living, not the dead. The person who commits suicide moves on in their way, but leaves behind the legacy of pain and sadness that sometimes can be almost insurmountable for the survivors. It's not something that should be taken lightly and I see nothing wrong with people who are sensitive and/or upset where ads like this are concerned. These ads appear to trivialize something that is life changing for those left in the world of the living. I'm more concerned by the callous indifference of those who claim to have been touched by suicide yet appear to condone the act. Those are the people who need to deal with their own pain, because clearly, they never exited the anger stage. Psychologist hat off now: the graphics are derivative and campaign is not clever.
JennyJen2 JennyJen2 8 years
This is a horribly disturbing and insensitive ad campaign. I hope it s pulled immediately.
CocoChic CocoChic 8 years
As someone who has struggled with serious depression, I find this ad sickening. Suicide isn't something to joke about and it's not something that should be used for advertising. It's a horrible thing that plagues the person who kills themselves and their loved ones. To say that we're overly sensitive about this is ridiculous and ignorant.
seniouxa13 seniouxa13 8 years
i think they used a touchy subject as their concept, mainly because to attract attention. but the controversy their ads are getting isn't helping the product much. the artwork is nice though.
Padraigin Padraigin 8 years
"more air for the rest of us"? Really? Are you kidding me? And I see no problem with the world becoming a little more sensitive. Lord knows we could use it. Suicide isn't funny, it isn't cute, and it certainly doesn't make me want to drink Pepsi Max. And some of these comments certainly don't make me want to know some people any better.
colormesticky colormesticky 8 years
*Happy Tree Friends. My bad.
colormesticky colormesticky 8 years
They may have been going for a cutesy, Happy Bunny way of making a joke, but I think Happy Bunny is as effed up as this ad. Not funny, and a hell of a stupid way to drum up publicity.
JenniJams JenniJams 8 years
I think the ad along with some of the commenters here are of very bad taste. :irk:
MrsJigglesworth MrsJigglesworth 8 years
I am totally appalled at a few of the comments on this post.
Shiloh-Jolie-Pitt Shiloh-Jolie-Pitt 8 years
I find this ad very offensive, insensitive and banal. Suicide is a very serious issue that should not be treated in such a superficial and moronic way.
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