Article: Editorial: We Have an App for What? -- December 2009
For its app to promote Amp, however, PepsiCo has courted intense controversy. The “Amp up before you score” app promises “to help men ‘score’ with two dozen stereotypes of women by giving users pickup lines” and, further, provides a scoreboard for users to “keep track of their conquests.” Stereotypes include “foreign exchange student,” “nerd” and “cougar,” plus pickup lines that range from the peculiar (“Wasn’t I in Space Academy with you?” for the nerd) to the offensively absurd (maps to local ice cream shops where one can take the “rebound girl”).
The conquest portion is perhaps more shocking: users can list “name, date of the conquest and comments to the user’s ‘brag list,’ which can be easily added to Facebook and Twitter.”
The app is free and available only to people 17 and older. At present, the company has issued an apology; however, PepsiCo is sticking by the app, which is still available to the public.
If the goal was to get noticed, Amp cannot be faulted, as the product clearly has seen more press than since its launch. But, the question must be asked: is this the kind of attention any company would want? Even for a product so geared toward a specific demographic?
To be fair, numerous marketing approaches have boggled the mind--usually in response to an ill-advised message, a poorly chosen target or a product that (how to put this kindly) failed on almost every level. Rarely has an approach stirred outrage.
Defenders contend the company is “attempting to be edgy and humorous with this app,” cite the fact that PepsiCo’s CEO is a woman and make sure to note that young males remain the most frequent consumers of energy drinks; however, the Amp app likely is as offensive to much of that demographic as to the women it so objectifies and stereotypes. Is that a successful campaign?