Pepsi Uses RIAA Victims in Ad

By Jon Newton 1/26/03

The key observation in Jon's article below is that the Record Industry Association of America (RIAA) will earn $0.75 from Pepsi for each of the 100 million downloads. That's 75 million in pure profit for the record industry, which is why RIAA president Mitch Bainwol is happy to go along with the joke. Apple wins, of course, because now they have more than quadrupled their total sales of downloads from 30 million to 130 million tunes - all using the AAC format that only the iPod will play thus pushing iPod sales. How this will facilitate the continuation of the RIAA's sue-your-customers campaing is something I am less sure of. Is "get sued by the RIAA and star in a TV commercial" the message here? -- Editor

Annie Leith, sued by the recording industry over music downloads, appears in Pepsi ads.

Pepsi ads wink at music downloading

'Wink' at downloading?

That's the headline in a USA TODAY story pumping up Pepsi's coming iTunes music store promo.

"Some 20 teens sued by the Recording Industry Association of America, which accuses them of unauthorized downloads, will appear in a Pepsi-Cola (PEP) ad that kicks off a two-month offer of up to 100 million free - and legal -downloads from Apple's iTunes, the leading online music seller," says the story here.

The "sassy ad" [no kidding - it's a direct quote] due out on February 1 during Superbowl, "is a wink at the download hot button," says Theresa Howard in a piece which might have come straight from Pepsi's promo department.

"Pepsi hopes the promotion will connect its flagship cola, as well as Sierra Mist and Diet Pepsi, with teens who've shown more affinity for bottled water, energy drinks and the Internet," she says.

The 'wink' comes in because Annie Leith, 14, has been suckered into appearing in the ad with other downloaders and apparently says she no longer makes "unauthorized downloads" and, "can say I was on TV for something so ridiculous". With her older sister and younger brother, she downloaded 950 songs over three years, says the story, going on:

"They settled the lawsuit for $3,000, the average according to RIAA. She'll use some of her undisclosed ad fee to help pay for the settlement."

'Settled' means they paid the RIAA $3,000 rather than getting hauled into a court hearing which might have cost them thousands of dollars more.

In the meanwhile, Green Day "cut a special version of the 1966 Bobby Fuller Four hit I Fought the Law for the ad, by BBDO, New York," says USA TODAY. "In the ad, Leith holds a Pepsi and proclaims: 'We are still going to download music for free off the Internet.' Then the announcer says how: 'Announcing the Pepsi iTunes Giveaway'."

"It's all in good spirit," Dave Burwick, chief marketer, Pepsi, North America, is quoted as saying.

Pepsi even managed to wheel out the RIAA's seldom-seen boss Mitch Bainwol.

"This ad shows how everything has changed," Bainwol says. "Legal downloading is great because fans are supporting the future of creative work in America."

Hollywood Rulz.

Jon Newton is the editor of and is a regular contributer to MP3 Newswire. Jon's site is devoted to the politics of digital music and his insights as well as those of his co-writers can be read there. We urge you to explore it.

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