PepsiCo Apologizes Over Controversial IPhone App

The 'Amp Up Before You Score' app has drawings of what it calls different female types.

The "Amp Up Before You Score" app suggests pickup lines for what it calls different female types. PepsiCo/iTunes App Store hide caption

itoggle caption PepsiCo/iTunes App Store

An iPhone software application developed by PepsiCo Inc. is causing a stir because it gives men pickup lines to use with a variety of women, and a bulletin board to brag about their conquests.

The app, which promotes the Amp energy drink, is called "Amp Up Before You Score."

The app has drawings of what it calls different female types, including the aspiring actress dressed in waitress garb, and the bookworm with pulled-back hair and glasses. The app supposedly gives guys just the right line to win over a particular type.

"Say you need a quick primer on punk rock because she's staring holes in you, and you're a little scared. We've got your back," says a video promoting the app.

Free apps that promote products are like the new-media version of a free T-shirt. And ads that use sex appeal as a selling point aren't new.

"This perhaps just went a bit over the line," says Nate Elliott, who follows interactive advertising for Forrester Research.

"It's not like apps saying, 'If you use our products, you'll become irresistible to women.' It's perhaps stepping over the line to, 'This is how you take advantage of women.' "

It seems like an odd mistake for a company like PepsiCo. It has a female CEO and major products like Quaker Oats and Tropicana orange juice that appeal to families and moms. Elliott says top executives just aren't used to evaluating interactive ads.

"Looking at a 30-second spot is easy," he says. "Reviewing and understanding every last possible interaction with an interactive application is a lot harder."

On Tuesday, Pepsi sent out a tweet that said, "We apologize if it's in bad taste & appreciate [your] feedback." Many men on Twitter defended the humor of the app, and many women said they wouldn't be buying Pepsi products anytime soon.

PepsiCo did not respond to NPR's request for a comment.

Elliott says Pepsi may leave up the app unless the outrage gets louder, because the drink is meant to appeal to young men.

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