Spitfire Strategies

Three Things Communicators Can Learn from Pepsi’s Failed Ad


This week, Pepsi released a protest-inspired ad featuring Kendall Jenner that went viral…but probably not in the way they had hoped. Following an outcry that the brand was exploiting and trivializing protests – from the civil rights era to today’s Black Lives Matter movement – Pepsi removed the ad and apologized to Jenner (not those offended) for the misstep. However, the damage was done.

During these tumultuous times, communicators and marketers are struggling to remain relevant while promoting their products and messaging. But, it’s a fine line to walk and not many are getting it right. Here’s how to make sure you do:

  • Identify a clear message. While it’s important to be timely, you don’t want to be seen as opportunistic. Are there real ways your brand can make a difference? What are they? Are you already doing them, or do you have a plan in place? That should be the starting point for your message.
  • Choose a credible messenger. The person or people who deliver your message should have some lived experience in the topic at hand. It may be tempting to go for the shinier, glossier option with the most followers, but if there’s little substance, your message will be lost among the deserved criticism you’ll receive.
  • Ask the right people the right questions. Who are your decision makers? Do they reflect the audiences you’re trying to reach? Involving people with lived experience helps you avoid being tone deaf and encourages creativity.

The current political climate offers an opportunity for communicators to connect with their audience on a deeper level by tapping into shared values, but it is vital for organizations to truly understand the conversation before inserting themselves into it.

“This has been a tremendous eye opener. It shows us how to pull the aspects of communications skills, from the message, to the audience. It forced us to identify our strengths and our weaknesses in an effort to become more strategic in how we prepare our messages and communicate them.”

- Training Participant

Getting Your Story Covered: Tips for Top-Notch Media Pitching Part Two

Mike Carter-Conneen

By Mike Carter-Conneen

  In the first installment of this two-part series, I shared some insights from my years working in TV news and media relations, focusing on the best methods to get your pitches seen by reporters. In this part, I review some strategies for increasing the odds those reporters will actually… (read more)

Making Your Pitches Count: Tips for Top-Notch Media Pitching Part Three

Hannah Ross

By Hannah Ross
Account Executive

  Communication professionals are no strangers to the challenges that journalists are facing today, from the demands of the 24-hour news cycle to budget shortfalls and understaffed newsrooms. We respect them for their tenacity and commitment to uncovering the truth, and we value being able to build relationships with them… (read more)

Finding the Words to Champion the Greater Good

Kristen Grimm

By Kristen Grimm

  An interest in politics isn’t new to Paige Swanson, a Karel Fellow who is working at Spitfire this summer before returning to Yale University for her senior year. But what is new to Paige is using strategic communication to make the case for political and social change. “I’ve worked… (read more)

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