A conversational contest run by soda giant Pepsi, led to a court case, receives the documentary treatment from Netflix in Pepsi, Where’s My Jet. Andrew Renzi is in the director’s chair, and Jeremiah Murphy pens the script. The year was 1996, and the cola wars were raging. Despite Pepsi’s celeb-soaked advertisements, Coke still held the more significant market share, so the second-place brand decided to roll out its most extensive campaign ever: Called “Pepsi Stuff,” it featured a soon-to-be infamous commercial implying that 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 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, even if it never existed in the first place. The documentary is shot in a rollicking, irreverent style and soaked in the music and culture of the mid-’90s.
The filmmakers also sit down with Leonard, Hoffman, the commercial’s creative team, and a genuinely unexpected cast of tangentially involved public figures, including Cindy Crawford, to tell the legendary tale of the kid who sued Pepsi for a fighter jet and became the hero of a new generation.
Growing up in the nineties, I remember the campaign for Pepsi points and the commercial with the jet. The last thing I remember about the promo was someone trying to win the JET and Pepsi not delivering, which led to the court case. The case hadn’t crossed my mind until I had a chance to review the documentary.
Andrew Renzi does a commendable job recreating the nineties and the situations that led to the case. It was great to see Cindy Crawford and her impact as a Pepsi spokesperson. There are also tidbits in the doc that fans will enjoy, such as blind taste testing.
Court case fans should also find something informative in the court case and how both sides present their case. I won’t reveal the case’s outcome, but it solidifies gullibility and why having a fine print or a disclaimer is essential.
Running a quick four episodes, Pepsi, Where’s My Jet is worth a binge.
Final Grade: B
Pepsi, Where’s My Jet? will release globally on Netflix on November 17, 2022
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