In 1996, Pepsi launched a marketing campaign called the "Pepsi Points" promotion, which allowed customers to collect points by purchasing Pepsi products and redeeming them for merchandise. The more points you collected, the more exclusive the merchandise you could redeem. One of the top rewards was a Harrier jet, which required an astonishing 7 million points to redeem. This seemed like an impossible feat until one man decided to take advantage of a loophole and try to claim the jet for himself. This is the wild story of Pepsi's Harrier jet redemption fiasco.
What Was the Pepsi Points Promotion?
The Pepsi Points promotion was a marketing campaign that was launched in 1996 by PepsiCo. It was a loyalty program that allowed customers to earn points by purchasing Pepsi products and redeeming them for merchandise. The more points you collected, the better the rewards you could redeem.
The promotion offered a wide range of prizes, from t-shirts and hats to sports gear and electronic gadgets. However, the most coveted reward was a Harrier jet, a vertical takeoff and landing fighter aircraft that was valued at $23 million.
The Harrier jet reward required an incredible 7 million Pepsi Points to redeem, which seemed impossible to achieve. However, Pepsi made it possible to earn points without buying any products, by allowing consumers to buy extra points for 10 cents each. This was where the trouble began.
The Harrier Jet Redemption Attempt
A 21-year-old business student named John Leonard saw an opportunity to take advantage of the loophole and try to claim the Harrier jet for himself. He calculated that he could purchase the 7 million points for $700,000 and claim the jet, which was valued at $23 million.
Leonard launched a website called "Save the Harrier" to promote his goal and seek donations from supporters. He also contacted PepsiCo, stating his intention to claim the jet and asking for details on how to redeem the points.
PepsiCo was caught off guard by Leonard's attempt to claim the Harrier jet. They responded with a letter stating that the Harrier jet was "fictional" and that the advertisement was meant to be humorous. However, Leonard argued that the advertisement was misleading and sued PepsiCo for breach of contract.
The lawsuit dragged on for months and attracted widespread media attention. PepsiCo tried to settle the case by offering Leonard $10,000 in cash and a few Pepsi Points, but he refused. Eventually, the judge dismissed the case, stating that the Harrier jet reward was obviously meant to be a joke and that no reasonable person could have taken it seriously.
The Pepsi Points promotion was a wild ride that taught us some valuable lessons about marketing and advertising. Firstly, it's essential to be clear and transparent about the terms and conditions of a promotion, so that customers don't get misled or disappointed. Secondly, it's crucial to anticipate all possible scenarios and loopholes that people might exploit to game the system.
The Pepsi Points promotion remains a legendary tale of marketing gone awry. The attempted redemption of a Harrier jet by a college student who tried to take advantage of a loophole caught the attention of the media and the public. Despite the lawsuit being dismissed, the story remains a cautionary tale for anyone involved in marketing and advertising. What do you think about the Pepsi Points promotion and the Harrier jet redemption attempt? Let us know in the comments below.