There’s a hilarious video on the Internet these days showing disguised NASCAR superstar Jeff Gordon taking an unsuspecting Chevy salesman for a hair-raising test-drive filled with automotive acrobatics. The video is a hoot.
It’s a funny joke, but the joke is on Pepsi’s customers who fell for the setup — Jeff Gordon at the wheel, a terrified car salesman in the shotgun seat.
Harmless? I don’t think so. Companies play fast and loose with their credibility at great risk. I’m sure I’m not the only member of the Pepsi Generation who now feels gullible and a bit manipulated as I learn the truth about the video in a growing number of blogs like jalopnik.com.
This video follows a similar Pepsi production last May of “Uncle Drew,” a portrayal of NBA star Kyrie Irving made up as an old-timer invited into a pickup game with some streetballers. In that video, the joke, in the fashion of the old “Candid Camera” series or Ashton Kutcher’s Punk’d, was where it should be — on the participants.
In the Jeff Gordon production, Pepsi’s sense of entertainment apparently overwhelmed its sense of ethics. Why would Pepsi not think the truth would emerge eventually, and that its customers would feel foolish for believing the set up?
Someone at Pepsi ignored the fundamental goal of corporate communications: To build trust through integrity.
Learn more about Cindy Miller Communications at www.cindymillercommunications.com.