Buy Pepsi...Get Jack!
BY JEREMY HANNA
By now, you probably know that Pepsi's much hyped Pepsi Stuff promotion is back. I, for one, am not that thrilled.
Last summer was different. For some reason still not clear to me the promotion captured my imagination and I made it my personal mission to collect Pepsi points from the avid and not so avid Pepsi drinkers I know.
While I don't drink the stuff much myself, my friend Wayne inhales it. While over at his house one Friday I noticed Pepsi bottles piling out of the trash can, and I instantly recognized this gold mine for what it was. Perhaps Wayne saw the gleam in my eye, or perhaps I was a bit overeager, but suddenly he knew that he had a commodity on his hands and he wasn't about to just give it away. And so, after a little wrangling, a deal was struck. For a part of the haul, Wayne would drink the Pepsi and save the bottles. I would, in turn, cut out the points, order the loot and pay the postage and handling.
Part of last year's Pepsi promotion was a stipulation that, after you had collected at least 20 Pepsi points, you could buy the rest of the points you needed for 10 cents apiece. Since the summer was quickly slipping by, even Wayne agreed that this was a better idea than drinking our way to the Pepsi bonanza. Perhaps the nicest thing about the contest was that even after buying points you still felt like you were getting a deal.
In the end, we sent in 80-odd points, some cash and an order for two beach chairs, two CD cases and a couple of hacky sacks. What we got about six weeks later was our order and our points back, a letter stating that the company was out of beach chairs and a request to resubmit the order later.
Any normal mail order business would have back ordered the beach chairs and sent the rest of the stuff along, but apparently, the subtleties of a good mail order business had eluded Pepsi. When I sent the order back, I was informed that the contest was over. Hmmm.
This year Pepsi is telling us that its Pepsi Stuff promotion is back and better than ever. After glancing at the new catalog, I realized that it was better than ever -- for Pepsi. Pepsi apparently has realized that it bungled last year by setting the point values for its stuff way too low. To compensate, this year Pepsi jacked the numbers through the roof. A skateboard in the new catalog costs 1,600 points.
At one point for every 20-ounce bottle, I would have to suck down 500 gallons of Pepsi. That's a little over 55-gallon drums or, for those of you who would prefer to slowly drink the problem away, one Pepsi a day for 4.38 years. If I opted for regular Pepsi, I would, in the process, consume roughly 238 pounds of sugar and enough caffeine to kick start a Harrier Jumpjet. Besides throwing my liver and pancreas to the dogs, I would set myself squarely on the road to financial ruin.
Even at the modest cost of 59 cents a bottle, I would end up spending close to a thousand bucks. To add insult to injury, I would still have to pay an extra $10 for shipping and handling.
My other option is to send in 50 points and buy the rest for 10 cents apiece. This would require me to drink a more modest 15.6 gallons, consume only 7.4 pounds of sugar and spend a mere $194.50.
Unfortunately, opting for either course of action would make me a moron. You can get a good skateboard for about $50 at Toys R Us. Why would I want to spend anywhere from $190 to $1,000 to get one which advertises for Pepsico?
Why would I want to pay for
anything which advertises for
a card-carrying member of
corporate America? If
anyone should be shelling out money,
Pepsi should be paying me.
Not even the cheapest items in the Pepsi Stuff catalog are good deals. Even if you buy Pepsi in the two-liter bottles at 99 cents apiece, you still end up paying about $26 for a poster or a 20-minute phone card. Why not pick up a phone card at your local grocery store and drink water instead? Trust me, your body and your budget will thank you.
The real question is: Why would I want to pay for anything which advertises for a card-carrying member of corporate America? If anyone should be shelling out money, Pepsi should be paying me.
Consider the sheer ridiculousness of the TV networks rushing to buy Pepsi and sending in money for the privilege of broadcasting its logo. "Oh please, Mr. Pepsi executive, let me pay you for taking this 30-second slot during the first half of the Superbowl!"
I think not. Billboard space on Route 66 ain't free. Why should the space on the back of my t-shirt be any different?
Jeremy Hanna is a sometimes-writer in Columbia who is trying to swear off carbonated beverages in the hopes of avoiding large precancerous growths in the years to come.