Hand in Hand, We Can; Pepsi hopes to do better with Saudi Arabian athletes

The beverage giant Pepsi has been getting a lot of bad comments and blows lately. The famous soda beverage manufacturer has been around since the 1900s, and has been through its own share of bad publicity and horrible advertising. The one thing Pepsi has always been able to understand is when to change direction and fix mistakes.

After the backlash of the Kendall Jenner ad only a month ago, Pepsi has released another ad with a similar theme.

“Hand in Hand, We Can” is a campaign created in by Impact BBDO (Jeddah) and displays an assorted group of young Saudi Arabian athletes battling evil fantasy creatures. The campaign was created to highlight and celebrate Saudi Arabia’s active youth and unity. It is meant to engage the country’s youth to embrace their achievements and national pride.

The video has been released with both vocal covers and without. Strangely, the video has been on PEPSI Arabia’s official YouTube page since January but the ad has only been officially aired during this month.

The video features prominent athletes such as football fan favorites Taisir Al-Jassim, Nawaf Al Abed and Yahya Al-Shehri, Karate champion Emad Al Malki, Kickboxing champion Hala Alhamrani, and certified female power athlete Amal Ba’atiyah. They have been using their influence to extend the campaign’s reach, which contains a Geo-filter on Snapchat and the hashtag #يد_بيد_نقدر as engagement opportunities.

The video is full of fantastic creatures and some great CGI work on behalf of Glassworks Barcelona.

The creatures seem to be a metaphor on the obstacles that these sports athletes face, and that by working together they are able to break free from them. While it is true that many athletes face difficult obstacles, especially females, the ad itself seems to miss the mark as it becomes an entertainment video focusing on the creatures themselves.

Picking up the pieces, could Pepsi make itself better again?

The other Pepsi ad that also missed its mark is the highly viral and universally criticized Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad, which contained similar messages of unity, defeating of obstacles together and embracing national pride in the United States.

Reactions from fans were swift and hard, with many stating it was making difficult issues that Americans were going through seem casual.

After the quick and effective backlash and reactions from fans, Pepsi quickly released an apology, stating that “Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace, and understanding. Clearly, we missed the mark and we apologize.”

While keeping a cohesive brand throughout various countries around the world is difficult, most brands stick to some common theme. Pepsi follows that method with the introduction of the “Hand and Hand, We Can” campaign. Perhaps this campaign will do better when it comes to translating those messages into a powerful and encouraging advertisement and full campaign.

Keeping ahead of the reaction curve

Brand Image and personality is built on keeping a consistent message and level of quality. Each ad and message can easily damage a company’s or brand’s equity and standing in the market. The bad publicity, and the new associations that consumers may gain from said publicity can cause many companies to fall.

Luckily for Pepsi, it has decades of good advertising and brand associations to fall back on when crises such as this occur. Unfortunately, not many companies do. We advise companies to keep an eye out, and always test ads with a wide variety of audience members to ensure a backlash-free ad and campaign.

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