Was Pepsi’s Apology Effective?

November 2, 2009


Thanks to JimmyMac210 for the photo.

Pepsi’s apology for its sexist iPhone application, “AMP UP Before You Score,” created quite a buzz in the social media world. Critics of the application have expressed their concerns about the half-hearted apology by PepsiCo and are indicating a plan to boycott Pepsi products. The application “AMP UP Before You Score” offers men pickup lines and background information for 24 types of women. It encourages men to make a list of women they have hooked up with and to brag about it on Twitter or Facebook.

Pepsi and AMP offered an apology over twitter on the tag #pepsifail; however, was their apology enough? AMPwhatsnext wrote:

Our app tried 2 show the humorous lengths guys go 2 pick up women. We apologize if it’s in bad taste & appreciate your feedback. #pepsifail

Apparently, several twitter followers did not find the application humorous.

Let’s evaluate the effectiveness of Pepsi’s apology according to Tom O Leary’s five steps to an effective apology. I think that his steps are a great way to determine the effectiveness of an apology.

First, was the apology genuine? In Pepsi’s case, Twitter followers were not impressed with the apology given by AMPwhatsnext. Many saw the apology as half-hearted and thought that PepsiCo did not seem interested in taking responsibility for their actions.

The second step suggests that it is not a good idea to try and justify your actions because it will only appear as if you are rambling on and not even apologizing. The apology made by Pepsi and AMP included the company trying to justify their actions rather than stating a clear apology.

The third step encourages those making the apology to commit to their apology and make a commitment to change. In the Twitter apology PepsiCo did not express how they are taking the necessary steps to change. They have encouraged people to respond to their apology; however, they did not state the changes being made to fix the problem.

The fourth step to an effective apology involves being aware of how you phrase your apology. The apology given by Pepsi and AMP did not seem well thought or sincere. According to Tom O Leary it is important to make sure that the other party involved clearly understands what you are apologizing for.

The fifth step to an effective apology is being prepared for the end result. Clearly PepsiCo did not realize that their sexist application would backfire and cause a heated debate with Twitter followers. After a week of criticism Pepsi decided to take down the application on iTunes.

“We have decided to discontinue the AMP iPhone application,” a Pepsi spokesman said in a statement. “We’ve listened to a variety of audiences and determined this was the most appropriate course of action.”

Follow the #pepsifail discussion on Twitter and decide for yourself if Pepsi’s apology was effective. What course of actions do you think Pepsi should have taken in responding to the criticism about their iPhone application?


One Response to “Was Pepsi’s Apology Effective?”

  1. […] Was Pepsi’s apology effective? by John Soriano […]

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