Pepsi's entry for stupidest tweet ever

Pretending to apologize for its sexist Amp energy drink iPhone app, the soft drink giant drags culture to a new low

By Andrew Leonard

Published October 14, 2009 3:28PM (EDT)

So Pepsi creates a sophomoric iPhone app, ostensibly to help guys pick up chicks, but really just as marketing for its Amp energy drink, and women get upset, because it is sexist and insulting. Sample proposed pickup line to get the "artist" gal to swoon into your arms: "You know the Mona Lisa has no eyebrows. I wonder what else she shaves."

Embarrassed by the tweet-storm that follows (or, more likely, delighted at the publicity gained from a Wall Street Journal story covering the contretemps), Pepsi twitters an apology.

"Our app tried 2 show the humorous lengths guys go 2 pick up women. We apologize if it's in bad taste & appreciate your feedback."

Maybe I'm overreacting, but I'm quite impressed with how, in just under 140 characters, Pepsi managed to drag all of civilization down a new, hitherto unplumbed, nadir.

First of all, as the legendary Susan McCarthy once explained in Salon, "sorry if" does not constitute an apology. Making jokes about Mona Lisa shaving her bush is in bad taste, period. No ifs, ands or buts about it. We're not wading in an ambiguous swamp of postmodern contextuality here -- no, we're stuck, hip-deep in the mud. If you're gonna own up, Pepsi, then just own up. No "sorry ... ifs."

Secondly, the to/2 swap looked dumb when Prince first starting doing it 25 years ago, and it still looks dumb now. Don't get me wrong: While I am often mocked by my texting and instant messaging correspondents for my compulsion to properly capitalize and punctuate my evanescent communications (seriously, I am the only person I know who uses semicolons in texts), I am not a stickler for immaculate prose in the aforementioned media. When in a hurry, I have been known to indulge in time- and character-saving abbreviations. But Pepsi's oh-so-cute use of "2" instead of "to" has all the look of a focus-grouped apology format that assumes that today's Pepsi generation will be mollified by the au courant cyber-colloquialisms of online discourse. No. Pepsi is wrong. It just looks stupid. And their tweet had 12 characters to spare anyway, so it was also totally unnecessary.

So, a purposely dumbed-down, fake and insufficient apology for a trumped up controversy designed to generate angry rants just like the one I'm pounding out on my keyboard now so as to push sales of an energy drink that is undoubtedly not good for one's health if consumed in large quantities. Arrgh.

Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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