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Poor PepsiCo (NYSE: PEP ) . The soft-drink and salty-snack giant rolled out an edgy program through Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL ) App Store this month to promote its AMP energy drink, but it's proving to be more sexist than sexy.
The "AMP UP Before You Score" application is "a roadmap to success with your favorite kinds of women," offering pickup lines based on one of two dozen stereotypes.
If the cheat sheet leads to a successful tryst, you can add her contact information to your "Brag List" and have the app brag about your conquest through Facebook, Twitter, or email.
We're all grown-ups here -- or at least adult enough to pass the simple age-verification check of clicking "OK" to confirm that the app user is at least 17 -- so there is clearly some humor to be mined in the singles scene.
Click on "treehugger," and you can find local vegan restaurants, your fake carbon-footprint number, and pickup lines such as, "You have my heart melting faster than the polar ice caps."
If this were Axe body spray or an indie beer company -- or even a stand-alone energy-drink maker such as Red Bull or Monster parent Hansen Natural (Nasdaq: HANS ) -- this would be little more than a head-shaker or a chuckle-maker, depending on how you take your comedy. But this isn't the sort of "go for broke" campaign that a smaller bottler in the vein of Jones Soda (Nasdaq: JSDA ) can pull off.
Unfortunately, this is PepsiCo, the same company that wants to sell kids Cap'n Crunch cereal, Gatorade thirst quenchers, and Tropicana juices. Just as Disney (NYSE: DIS ) can't afford to stray too far from its family-friendly path in any of its divisions for fear of consumer boycotts, PepsiCo and Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO ) have no choice but to play it safe.
PepsiCo hasn't pulled the app. I was able to download it this afternoon. However, I'd be shocked if it sticks around. You can't market to the masses if you cross a line that many consumers will find objectifying and in poor taste.
What was PepsiCo thinking? Any business that AMP gains from the publicity is likely to be more than offset elsewhere.
Did PepsiCo go too far? If it did, and it bows to activist pressure, can Rick put it in his "Brag List" later? Share your support or criticism in the comment box below.