How a College Kid Almost Took Down a Corporate Giant on a Technicality – And How to Protect your Brand From This Mistake.

How to Protect Your Brand

If you’re not sold on the importance of making sure your ads and influencer generated content are not deceptive or misleading, check out the docuseries on Netflix – Pepsi, Where’s My Jet?. 

Alternatively, just keep reading this to get the gist.

The docuseries covers the story of how a 21 year old student from Washington sparked a national media sensation and multi-year lawsuit because of the lack of a disclaimer in a Pepsi ad.

In the mid 1990’s, in the peak of the Cola wars era, PepsiCo launched a campaign with one goal- get people to buy more Pepsi. The campaign centered around a “Pepsi-Points” system, where consumers could collect “points” from Pepsi labels and trade them in for Pepsi merch, such as Pepsi branded t-shirts and leather jackets.

One commercial for the campaign showed an AV-8 Harrier II Jet that could be acquired for 7 million Pepsi points.

Obviously, a joke, right? Well, not exactly. 

The commercial didn’t include any fine print or disclaimers, so John Leonard, the 21 year old student, tried to take Pepsi up on their “offer”. Leonard acquired the 7 million pepsi points with the help of a few investors but Pepsi denied the request for the Harrier jet, claiming that the commercial was a joke. 

Pepsi offered Leonard a settlement of $750,000 that Leonard refused.

Lawsuits were filed. 

The media had a heyday. 

And ultimately, after a long legal battle, a New York court ruled in favor of PepsiCo and Leonard never got the jet.

What is the lesson here? If you’re not keen on potentially shelling out hundreds of thousands of dollars to protect your brand in court, you might want to take your advertising disclaimers – and disclosures – seriously. 

Here are our top 2 tips to doing just that.

#1 – Choose a disclosure that clearly shows a financial relationship between brand and influencer. 

When you’re drafting up talking points and mulling over creative strategies, it’s important to decide early on what kind of disclosure resonates most with your brand – and stick to it for all your influencer content.

Our favorites at InfluenceLogic are:

Sponsored – The classic. The tried, and true. The gold standard. It’s our #1 choice for disclosures.

Partner – The edgy little brother of sponsored. This disclosure is not ambiguous but at the same time leaves a little to the imagination. To keep things safe we prefer to tack on the brand name, for example, #MintPartner.

#2 – Don’t get carried away with your claims.

We have no doubt that your brand/service/product is amazing- you’re helping people and changing lives. When it comes to creating content, definitely showcase the best case scenarios and share the customers that have experienced life changing results – just keep in mind, the less typical the results are that you’re sharing, the more careful you need to be in how you talk about them.

Are you a social media manager or brand manager interested in working with influencers but not sure where to start? Feeling overwhelmed at all the technical aspects of launching an influencer program? We’d love to help. Reach out with any questions to

Share This Article:

Download Our Mobile App

Partner With Us:

Grow Your Revenue with Brand Partnerships

More Posts:


What is Your Passion?

“Follow your passion”. How many times have I heard people say that in my life? Honestly, I have no idea what that means. My passions are around rolled up aces over kings and hitting a Pick 5 with a long shot in the last leg. But no idea how that would have helped me professionally. I think it is the same thing with being a creator.

Habits to Leave Behind

Three Habits to Leave Behind as a Creator

Making your own schedule, being your own boss, and creating content you love are just a few of the perks of being an influencer. In 2023, the number of influencers on the market is set to grow by 23.4 percent (TheB2BHouse). To further build your platform and make yourself known, it will be essential to leave behind some habits to develop your platform even more. Here are three habits to leave behind as a creator:

Being a Creator = Being an Investor

Being a Creator = Being an Investor

Everyday, my life is like Shark Tank. Someone stops me somewhere and wants to pitch me. I was playing craps in Vegas a few weeks ago and someone actually tried to pitch me their startup while the dice were rolling. My answer to most of these people is that they really need to invest in themselves before they pitch me. As a creator, your first thinking should be as an investor. That will be your greatest opportunity for big returns.

Entrepreneurial Spirit

Find the Entrepreneurial Spirit

In my thirty plus years of being a founder or investor, I have spent almost all of that with other people who had an “entrepreneurial spirit”. While no one can really define what that means it is pretty easy to define and see patterns in people and why they want to be an entrepreneur.

Performance Partnerships
for Creators & Brands