Everybody knows about the cola wars between Coke and Pepsi. But do you know the story of a college that took Pepsi to court over a jet plane? The marketing gurus at Pepsi offered a military jet plane as a top price in 1996 in a contest. The plane never existed, that was mistake number one for Pepsi. From there John Leonard took on Pepsi for such a ludicrous contest of exaggeration. Netflix’s “Pepsi, Where is My Jet?” explores this advertising debacle.
Pepsi, Where’s My Jet? Is a four-part series directed by Andrew Renzi and co-produced by Renzi, Andrew Corkin, Nick Boak, Theo James, Andrew Fried, Dane Lillegard, Sarina Roma and Jordyn Wynn. The seriespremieres on Nov. 17.
The year was 1996, and the cola wars were raging. Despite Pepsi’s celeb-soaked advertisements, Coke still held the bigger market share, so the second-place brand decided to roll out its biggest campaign ever: Called “Pepsi Stuff,” it featured a soon-to-be infamous commercial implying if you just bought enough of their products, you could use “Pepsi Points” to purchase sunglasses, leather jackets… and maybe a Harrier jet? Pepsi execs assumed the astronomical “price” of the military plane was set high enough to indicate it was a joke, but college student John Leonard instead saw it as a challenge and decided to call their bluff.
Enlisting the help (and funding) of mountaineering buddy Todd Hoffman, Leonard hashed out a plan to score the grandest prize of all – even if it never existed in the first place. Shot in a rollicking, irreverent style and soaked in the music and culture of the mid-’90s, Pepsi, Where’s My Jet? sits down with Leonard, Hoffman, the ad’s creative team, and a truly unexpected cast of tangentially-involved public figures to tell the legendary tale of the kid who sued Pepsi over a fighter jet, and became the hero of a new generation.