Pepsi Provided a Fighter Jet As a Joke Prize. a Scholar Tried to Declare It.

Pepsi Provided a Fighter Jet As a Joke Prize. a Scholar Tried to Declare It.
  • Pepsi launched a “factors” promotion in 1996 that included a “joke” prize of a $23M fighter jet.
  • Faculty pupil John Leonard took this problem significantly, and launched a plan to nab the prize. 
  • A brand new Netflix documentary “Pepsi, The place’s My Jet?” recounts Leonard’s try to say the jet. 

John Leonard’s life took an uncommon flip in 1996, when a Pepsi marketing campaign set him on a mission to attempt to safe the last word competitors prize: a fighter jet. 

A brand new Netflix documentary, “Pepsi, The place’s My Jet?”, recounts Leonard’s audacious try to carry the drinks big to its phrase, pushing the bounds of a joke to a millionaire-backed scheme and a courtroom battle. 

Pepsi launched a rewards scheme known as Pepsi Factors, with prospects in a position to redeem objects utilizing factors accrued from shopping for its drinks. 

The corporate released a TV commercial for the promotion that ended with the declare that 7 million factors would permit a Harrier fighter jet value about $23 million to be redeemed. 

The one downside, Leonard argued, was that Pepsi did not put a disclaimer in its advert to inform viewers it was solely joking. The dearth of any superb print led him to attempt to nab what arguably would have been one of many world’s finest bargains.

Leonard, a 20-year-old school pupil on the time, realised it will be prohibitive to purchase and retailer the required variety of Pepsi cans or bottles to redeem the jet. Nonetheless, he noticed a loophole: purchase Pepsi Factors for 10 cents every, which means the seven million factors wanted for the jet would value $700,000.

The coed satisfied millionaire Todd Hoffman, who had befriended Leonard on a mountaineering journey, to bankroll his plan.

“We appeared on the videotape of the business, and I simply saved taking a look at it time and again and over and going: ‘That’s completely a reckless advert put on the market by a significant company that is aware of higher,'” Hoffman told The Guardian this week.


The saga is much like a 1994 episode of “The Simpsons,” by which Bart Simpson chooses a “joke” prize of an elephant over $10,000, a lot to the dismay of radio hosts freely giving the reward. The episode was broadcast a few years earlier than Leonard launched into his scheme.

Whereas Bart did obtain his elephant, Pepsi refused to budge on what it argued was clearly a joke. The group’s refusal to honor the commercial brought the matter to court

Leonard was unsuccessful although, with District Decide Kimba Wooden saying {that a} declare in an commercial did not depend as a unilateral supply.

“The tongue-in-cheek angle of the business wouldn’t trigger an affordable individual to conclude {that a} gentle drink firm can be freely giving fighter planes as a part of a promotion,” Wooden mentioned as a part of his verdict siding with Pepsi.

Whereas Pepsi escaped having to purchase a Harrier, it resulted in a PR catastrophe on the worst doable time.

Missed alternative

Within the Nineties Pepsi was embroiled in a battle with Coca-Cola that may quickly see Food plan Coke overtake its cola because the second best-selling soda within the US, behind Coke. 

The corporate had battled a sequence of scandals, from gaffes over celebrity partnerships to incidents involving syringes being found in Pepsi cans. Tangentially, Coca-Cola’s abandonment of “New Coke” within the 80s helped the model get better its personal flagging status. 

Hoffman instructed The Guardian he thought the botched stunt contributed to that downfall.

“Pepsi blew a fantastic alternative to lasso this child and say: ‘Look, we’ll take you across the nation within the Harrier jet for the subsequent 12 months, we’ll pay you 1,000,000 bucks.’

“As an alternative of hiring legal professionals and suing us, they may have truly achieved the fitting factor and mentioned: ‘This child put the deal collectively. He rang the bell and he will get the prize,’ you realize?” 

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