PepsiCo’s iPhone app provides example for media ethics discussion

Wall Stree Journal storyAs an iPhone owner, I’m always interested in new apps (applications) for the iPhone.

One of the recent — and controversial — apps was “Amp Up Before You Score,” released and then withdrawn by PepsiCo Inc. The app was to promote PepsiCo’s Amp Energy drink. The app provided 24 types of women — such as “sorority girl” and “rebound girl” — and provided pickup tips. In addition, the app encouraged users who “score” to post details such as name, date and comments on Facebook and Twitter.


But as offended as many were (enough to get the app pulled), many must have thought it was OK or even very funny. Some of those were the PepsiCo executives who approved the app. According to The Wall Street Journal article, a spokeman for PepsiCo defended the app saying that the application was meant for iPhone users older than 17. Hmm — What does that mean?

I’m thinking about this app today, as I’m going to be talking about media law and ethics in my introductory media writing class. This iPhone app will be a good current media example for discussion. So, we need to discuss what the ethical considerations are — and then what the legal implications could have been. I know now that I need to go back to my lecture materials and reorganize how I present this topic so it’s not focused on the app being pulled but what should be the considerations in introducing an app or an ad or a public relations campaign.

One comment

  1. I can’t presume to know how women, or I as a woman, would feel with this app, but I’d like to think how I would react if there was an app with stereotypes of men.

    While inappropriate, I think I would find the humor in it. People don’t pick up Maxim or Cosmo expecting the editorial policies of Scientific American or Newsweek. Likewise, you don’t get an app from Amp’d Energy Drink and expect the same types of tips that you’d get from an FTD app.

    I think the thought of posting “scores” on social networking sites is not a good idea any way you slice it though. Not just because of common decency, but because of libel laws and such. You wouldn’t want to find out from a coworker that you were a so-so kisser at the bar last night.


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