Pepsi. Where’s My Jet? is a new Netflix documentary about a 1990s David vs Goliath legal case between a student and huge multinational corporation, PepsiCo. The documentary follows John Leonard as he demands Pepsi give him a military jet. The four part documentary series charts Leonard’s efforts force to Pepsi to hand over piece of military kit for a fraction of its real value.
What is Pepsi, Where’s My Jet about?
The cola wars between Coca-Cola and Pepsi saw the two fizzy drink titans spending millions on advertising over decades as they attempted to outdo each other in product sales. The Netflix documentary explores the fallout from one of Pepsi’s adverts which was taken at face value by a student who had spotted a loophole.
One day in 1996, Pepsi launched what they thought would be their next hit advert - they showcased how their customers could peel off coupons from their cans and save them up to trade in for different goodies.
125 coupons, or Pepsi points, could be traded for a pair of sunglasses, whilst the advert also claimed that for 7 million Pepsi points, you could get an AV-8 Harrier II jump jet, then worth about $23 million.
John Leonard decided to take Pepsi at its word and planned to collect enough points to win the jet. He quickly realised that buying 7 million cans of the soft drink, storing them, and hiring workers to peel the labels would not be feasible. However, when he saw a disclaimer stating that consumers could buy Pepsi points at 10 cents each, his plan was back on track.
With 7 million points costing $700,000, Leonard realised that if he could get together the funds, he could essentially buy a $23 million jet for a fraction of its value.
Leonard took the idea to his friend and business owner Todd Hoffman, and the pair handed Pepsi a cheque for $700,000, asking for their jet in return. It felt too good to be true, and that’s probably because it was.
Pepsi had no intention of handing over a Harrier Jet which, according to the White House, would have had to have been heavily modified to remove its military capabilities before being given to a civilian, and the company originally tried to fob the pair off with cases for two cases of Pepsi.
Leonard and Hoffman then hired a lawyer and Pepsi were suddenly more receptive, offering $750,000 in lieu of the jet, but the pair didn’t want to be ripped off and they decided to take Pepsi to court.
What happened in the John Leonard v PepsiCo case?
Leonard’s main argument in the now infamous court case was that Pepsi had not put any disclaimer on their advert and he therefore felt that he was entitled to the jet that the ad promised him.
However, Judge Kimba Wood found in favour of Pepsi and denied Leonard his claim on the jet. Wood reasoned that the advert did constitute a legally binding offer, that no reasonable person could believe that the offer of trading a $23 million jet for $700,000 was genuine, and that there was not a written agreement between the two parties, so the advert did not constitute fraud.
After winning the case, Pepsi continued to air a modified version of the ad - they increased the number of Pepsi points required to win the jet to 700 million, and added a ‘just kidding’ disclaimer.
When is Pepsi, Where’s My Jet? On Netflix?
Pepsi, Where’s My Jet? Was released on Netflix on Thursday 17 November. There are four episodes in the series and they are all available to watch now.
Is there a trailer for Pepsi, Where’s My Jet?
Yes there is, and you can watch it right here: