Blog: Andy MortonPepsiCo caught in Amazon attack

Andy Morton | 21 November 2014

PepsiCo received high praise when it announced it was to launch its stevia-based Pepsi extension True exclusively on Amazon in the US.

I wrote a whole feature on it and was told by people I spoke to that the move was a clever ploy and the future of niche roll-outs.

Those views may have to be reappraised, however, after environmentalists this week flooded Pepsi True's Amazon page with hundreds of one-star reviews.

The campaign was led by activist group SumOfUs.org and the Rainforest Action Network, who accuse PepsiCo of not doing enough to ensure its palm oil comes from sustainable sources.

PepsiCo, however, is fighting back - it pulled Pepsi True off Amazon but today the beverage is back up. And the company has defended itself against the nearly 3,500 one-star reviews - all of which contain scathing attacks on the company - stating that it is the victim of an “orchestrated effort to post inaccurate information”.

“Our critics would be hard pressed to find many companies that have taken PepsiCo’s holistic approach to land policy, forest stewardship and responsible sourcing,” the company said, adding that it is committed to zero deforestation and to “100% sustainable palm oil” by next year.

What's slightly farcical about the whole situation is that Pepsi True doesn't use palm oil - the target of the attacks was PepsiCo's Doritos brand. That, of course, won't worry the activists, who are chasing any leverage to bring PepsiCo to heel. But, it might be of concern to other global brands that view the Pepsi True launch as a blueprint for beverage launches.

Navigating the Amazon retail jungle has just become a more daunting prospect.

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