STEVE INSKEEP, host:
Pepsico recently put out an iPhone software application to promote its energy drink. The energy drink is called Amp and the software is called Amp Up Before You Score, which is not a reference to basketball. The application 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.
NPR's Laura Sydell reports.
LAURA SYDELL: The app has drawings of what it calls different female types. There's the aspiring actress dressed in waitress garb, the bookworm with pulled back hair and glasses. The app supposedly gives guys just the right line to win over a particular type.
(Soundbite of ad)
Unidentified Man: Or so you need a quick primer on punk rock because she's starring holes in you and you're a little scared. We've got your back.
SYDELL: These free apps that promote products are kind of like the new media version of a free T-shirt. And ads that use sex appeal as a selling point aren't new.
Mr. NATE ELLIOTT (Forrester Research): This perhaps just went a bit over the line.
SYDELL: Nate Elliott follows interactive advertising for Forrester Research.
Mr. ELLIOTT: It's not like apps saying if you use our product you'll become irresistible to women. It's perhaps stepping over the line to this is how you take advantage of women.
SYDELL: It seems like an odd mistake for a company like Pepisco. It has a woman CEO and major products like Quaker Oats and Tropicana orange juice that appeal to families and moms. Elliott thinks top executives just aren't used to evaluating interactive ads.
Mr. ELLIOTT: Looking at a 30 second spot is easy. Reviewing and understanding every last possible interaction with an interactive application is a lot harder.
SYDELL: Yesterday Pepsi sent out a tweet. It said: We apologize if it's in bad taste and appreciate your feedback. Many men on Twitter defended the humor of the app and many women said they wouldn't be buying Pepsi products any time soon.
Pepsico didn't respond to NPR's request for a comment. Analyst Elliott thinks Pepsi may leave up the app unless the outrage gets louder because the drink is meant to appeal to young men.
Laura Sydell, NPR News.
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