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Pepsi Boycott

Indra Nooyi: Invited to the White House for State Dinner

July 18, 2005 | By | 23 Comments

state dinner.jpg

The Bushes with

the Indian Prime Minister

and his wife

Indra Nooyi is dining at the White House tonight. It’s true. She is enjoying Pan-roasted Halibut and Basmati Rice with Pistachios and Currants along with Hartford Court Pinot Noir Arrendell 2002.

She was escorted by her husband, Raj K. Nooyi, who was among the top 150 individual donors — $27,000 US — to John Kerry’s presidential campaign.

Indra Nooyi is the President and CFO of Pepsi-Co — she’s the one who gave a speech May 15th in which she referred to the United States as the middle finger of the world.

I’m as cynical as the next guy, but really, I just cannot believe the President did this. Scott Johnson says “That hurts.”

Wow, it sure does.

I’m positively dumbfounded. Insult America and get invited to a State Dinner??!!

The only minor consolation is that they served “Mango, Chocolate-Cardamom and Cashew Ice Creams” for dessert which sounds disgusting.

Still. Wow. That does hurt.

Powerade at the Marine Corps Marathon!

June 10, 2005 | By | No Comments

When Jack and I trained for past marathons we floated Pepsi stock on the gallons of Gatorade we drank and spilled. Now, we’re training for the Marine Corps Marathon coming up in October and we won’t be drinking Pepsi products: it will be Coke’s Powerade for us.


Turns out everyone will be drinking Powerade! It’s the official drink of the race and, according to race HQ, “POWERade will be filling more than 180,000 cups across all 13 water points to aid runners in maintaining proper hydration.”

The water stations at a marathon are a sight to see . . . The Marine Corps Marathon has 30,000 runners participating — and they all need (a lot) to drink, and most don’t want to stop running, so every other mile there’s a major logistical effort involved in throwing hydration at the runners. Imagine 180,000 cups!


So hey: memo to Coca-Cola (maker of Powerade) — there’s time to roll out Camo-Ade in time for the Marine Corps Marathon!!

Major E. may still be thirsty. But if POWERade can get fluids to Washington, DC, Irag should not be far behind.

* * *

Running with The Open Post at Mudville Gazette

But Where’s the Bling?: Pepsi Responds to Major E.

June 8, 2005 | By | One Comment

Pepsi and Major E. (serving in Baghdad) are exchanging letters again. Scott Johnson at Powerline has just posted Pepsi’s latest non-response to Major E.’s request for a disavowal of Indra Nooyi‘s insult to America.


Free Pepsi vending machine

for the war machine

The key Pepsi response line is this: “Clearly PepsiCo does not now, nor have we ever, considered the U.S. as disrespectful towards the rest of world.”

Major E. responds: “If Pepsico feels that the US is not, and has never been, disrespecful toward the rest of the world, why does Pepsico accept Ms. Nooyi’s explanation that she made a ‘thoughtless gesture or comment’?”

Here’s the essential point — the letter to the Major comes from PepsiCo VP of consumer relations Christine Jones. “Chris,” as she signs her letter, seems like a nice person and the letter is nice enough. . . but it’s still just words. We’ve not heard a peep from Pepsi’s President, nor have they taken any real action to make restitution.

What do I mean? This is the heart of the matter. If my husband makes me angry,(or vice versa!) in order to make things right, he says “I’m sorry.” And it’s over. And that’s the strategy Pepsi is pursuing. Lay low; let it blow over.

But, alternatively, if my husband (in some inconceivable parallel universe) would publicly insult me, to make it right, he would have to bring flowers, chocolate, and maybe even some serious bling.

So, in case you were wondering what those of us who are still pretty irritated with Pepsi are looking for, that’s it. (For specifics, see here.)

C’mon Pepsi, where’s the bling?


Proposed Coke tank

for Tanks

Update: Thank you for the Open Post at Mudville Gazette

06 Jun



Camo-Ade and Cammy Coke . . .on the Water Buffalo?

June 6, 2005 | By | 3 Comments

Here’s “Camo-Ade” from Waco Kid at Penguin Proletariat! Very cool.


In this weekend’s post, I challenged the executives at Coca-Cola to come up with a way to get some fluids to Major E., stationed at Camp Victory in Baghdad. Specifically, I told them they needed to start a “Camp Victory” campaign, package Powerade and Coke in camouflage, and start shipping it by the crate-load to Iraq. And a Coke dispenser on every water buffalo.

As we sat in the relative comfort of 90 degree heat all day yesterday, watching double-header little league baseball, I kept thinking two things:

First: What does 107 degrees inside a tank feel like? We had a hard time keeping the boys playing baseball hydrated at 90 degrees — one of my son’s teammates actually threw up. (Of course there was also the crushing lead their opponents had on them. . . )

Second: Can you imagine how fast a “Camo-Ade” or “Cammy Coke” would fly off the shelves here at home . . . particularly among the youth athlete market? Watching the Dude and his buddies running around yesterday, with moms and dads pushing fluids at them, I just kept thinking that whoever came up with a patriotic, cammy-packaged drink product wouldn’t be able to keep it stocked in the stores. Just the opinion of one mother whose son would eat broccoli if it came in cammy.

Over at Manuever Marketing, they note that this situation is perfect for a small upstart drink manufacturer. . .

Everyone wants to be a “Dogface” today. How do I know? The Wall Street Journal recently reported that respect for the military is now so high that the number of people faking military service with “unauthorized” use of military decorations has increased dramatically.

So issue them Cammy Coke instead!

Of course, it’s not too late for Pepsi. I think everything I wrote to Coke could work for Pepsi, too. Steve Robbins wrote to suggest the following for Pepsi:

I would suggest to my friend PepsiCo that the company will need to respond quickly, and it will have to go well beyond a few cases of soda! Personally, I would recommend a visit to the war zone by PepsiCo President and Chief Financial Officer, Indra Nooyi. As a first measure of contrition, she could deliver a plaque to him, bearing Major E’s question, and the official answer of the Board, with all appropriate signatures affixed.

Secondly, I believe she and PepsiCo should simultaneously announce the establishment of some form of philanthropic effort on behalf of those brave individuals who have been serving in this war on terror. An educational fund for the children of those soldiers would be one logical possibility, as Indra made her admittedly intemperate remarks at Columbia University.

I can hear the protests already: some will argue that multi-national drink manufacturers wrapping their products in the flag would be hypocritical. Perhaps.

But symbols matter. Our soldiers hear the controversy over the war. Take a minute to read this post by Ma Deuce Gunner, an M2 Gunner serving in Kirkuk, Iraq which ends, “And they say we are the bad guys.”

No, they are the good guys. And anything we can do to support them is a good thing.

See also: A great Scott Johnson Powerline response to a New York Times article on the Pepsi controversy.

A salute to MudvilleGazette’s Open Post

Memo to Neville Isdell, CEO, Coca-Cola: Major E. is Thirsty!

June 5, 2005 | By | 11 Comments

Hey, Coca-Cola: Carpe diem! Seize the Day! Your moment is now! I understand that you don’t want to make too unseemly a display of rejoicing at Pepsi’s self-immolation, but now is the time to act. I do hate to give away free consulting, but here’s what you need to be doing:

coke_ad.jpgnoticed, but your number one competitor has been in a bit of hot water lately. We’ve had a little something to say about the President of PepsiCo, Indra Nooyi’s ill-considered speech to Columbia Business School here at Reasoned Audacity.

But you really need to focus in on a story from Powerline (who first broke the Nooyi story) about Major E., an American soldier currently serving in Iraq and stationed at Camp Victory in Baghdad.

Major E. is thirsty. You may have heard: it’s hot over there. The temperature forecast for tomorrow is 107 degrees, and over 100 all week long. . . And he works in a tank.

And Major E. is boycotting Pepsi and Gatorade.

The Major wrote to Pepsi (from Powerline) telling them that he was boycotting their products because “I found Ms. Nooyi’s graduation comments offensive, not to mention off-base, because the central theme of her speech was that America is, in essence, “flipping off the world.”

The good Major asked for a response from Pepsi; what he got was standard boilerplate. Be sure to read an article Scott Johnson of Powerline just wrote for the Daily Standard that lays out a whole series of exchanges between Major E. and Pepsi. Here’s an excerpt from his most recent letter to Pepsi:

The question that I have asked since my first communication on this topic is whether PepsiCo agrees with the values that underlie Ms. Nooyi’s statement made as the president of PepsiCo, not as a private citizen, since she is the company’s president who made the remarks from a prepared text before a high-profile graduate school with media present. In regard to our relations with the rest of the world, does PepsiCo believe that America is “giving the finger,” or “lending a hand?”

This is the third time I have asked the question and though it seems quite straightforward, I have yet to receive an answer, only polite responses promising to “forward” my message.

But what really caught my attention — and should catch yours — is this excerpted letter from Major E. to Scott Johnson at Powerline, in which he describes a midnight tank patrol:

. . .The temperature stayed in the 80’s outside and hovered just over 100 degrees inside the tank. The combination of heat, helmet, and heavy protective gear meant that each time I sat down inside, sweat would begin to stream down my face within a minute or two. The rest of the patrol remained quiet, other than the odd rifle crack. . .

. . .Speaking of thirst, I am still dehydrated from the tank patrol. But since I have given up drinking Pepsi and Gatorade, hopefully only a temporary measure, I am stuck with Kuwait’s finest “Abraaj” bottled water, mixed with fruit punch.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and for all of the support you and your readers give to the troops.

In Christ,

Major E.

Camp Victory

“Other than the odd rifle crack??!” Let me get this straight: This man is serving our country in 100 degree heat. . . in a tank thousands of miles from home . . . and he has to drink “Abraaj” water from Kuwait?

Hello? Coca-Cola?? I seem to recall that you, Coca-Cola, have competitive products for Pepsi and Gatorade. . .

Time to get in gear. Major E. is thirsty. Send him some Powerade and make it snappy!

Here’s the free advice. Get your marketing team working overnight to come up with a “Camp Victory” campaign. Redesign the Powerade labeling in a special collector’s edition camouflage version. Load the crates up on the plane and get them to Baghdad on the double.

And Mr. Isdell, if I were you, I’d hand the first one out of the crate to Major E. personally.

Get to work guys, it’s hot over there.

# # #

BLEG: Hey you Photoshop hotshots — what would a Powerade in cammy look like? I’d love to see it!


Mudville, Open Post: thanks!

02 Jun



The European Finger . . . Dutch Vote Nee! : Why We Should Care

June 2, 2005 | By | 5 Comments

Should Americans care about the vote to ratify a Constitution for the European Union? Following Monday’s “non” vote from the French, the 16 million Dutch voted NO yesterday, with a resounding 62 percent rejecting the proposed EU charter.


European Union Flag

Dutch and French say Nee et Non

Should we care? It’s a very interesting development for political scientists, but how ’bout for real-world Americans?

The answer, surprisingly, comes from: Indra Nooyi, President of PepsiCo. In her speech to Columbia University where she compared the world to a hand, and the United States to the middle finger, Nooyi told us that the index finger, the European Finger, points the way:

Our index, or pointer finger, is Europe. Europe is the cradle of democracy and pointed the way for western civilization and the laws we use in conducting global business.

There is an attitude, among the international intellectual elite, that Europe does point the way. I use the word “international” elite deliberately: it’s not just Europeans; it’s not just Indra Nooyi. There are those among the American elite who would like us to move toward a more “multilateral” approach, adopting a more deferential stance toward international opinion and mores — but most troubling, international law as well.

In an essential article in the Winter 2004 issue of the Public Interest, “Multilateralism Comes to the Courts,” Ken Kersch, of Princeton, lays out in exquisite detail the movement among many American legal scholars to establish international norms and treaties in authority over domestic sovereignty. (The link goes to the Public Interest home page; to access the article, navigate to Winter 2004 through the “Archives” link.) Kersch’s quotes from scholars like Peter Singer of Princeton, author of One World (and infanticide advocate) and Martha Nussbaum of University of Chicago, and Rogers Smith of University of Pennsylvania, are troubling. But it is his citations of “cosmopolitan” attitudes among our sitting Supreme Court Justices that are particularly noteworthy:

In Grutter v. Bollinger, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (joined by Justice Stephen Breyer) cited both the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (which the United States has ratified) and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (which it has not) as evidence of an “international understanding of the office of affirmative action.” In Justice Ginsburg’s view, these international conventions provide the grounds for “temporary special measures aimed at accelerating de facto equality.” (Bold emphasis mine.)

In Lawrence v. Texas, Justice Anthony Kennedy prominently recurred to a friend-of-the-Court brief on foreign law and court decisions filed by Mary Robinson, the former U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, and to a key decision of the European Court of Human Rights.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the (legal) forum — the subtext about yesterday’s vote: the European Finger seems to have a wrist below — the (pesky) people — turning the hand in another direction. That’s the populous uncertainty with a referendum, a democracy. . . it’s called a vote.

The intellectual elite — whether they be the American, European, or UN variety — don’t seem to understand the central importance to “We The People” of national identity. Or, more precisely, they don’t care. But that is a strategic miscalculation: they fail to appreciate the cohesive power that identification produces.

Nee et Non. Now they have to care.


Welcome Instapundit readers. See Glenn’s analysis of the vote here.

John at Powerline has two good posts on the EU votes, here and here.

Also see what King at SCSU Scholars says about the EU vote more generally (Cool graphs at his site.)

27 May



Victor Davis Hanson on Indra Nooyi

May 27, 2005 | By | 5 Comments


Victor Davis Hanson

For those who have been following the controversy surrounding President of PepsiCo, Indra Nooyi, and her remarks at Columbia Business School, Victor Davis Hanson weighs in today on National Review Online.

He groups Nooyi together with other global elites who benefit from unparallelled American opportunity, and then hypocritally disparage the very system that catapulted them to positions of wealth and privilege. He cites Imran Khan, an internationally-known cricket star now running for public office in Pakistan who incited the Newsweek riots; Arundhati Roy, an Indian novelist who has won the Booker-prize, who is also a harsh critic of America; and Lars von Trier the Danish filmmaker who specializes in the anti-America genre.

I particularly liked Hanson’s point that these privileged elites indulge in their anti-American rants as something of an egoistic pasttime:

The anti-Americanism that we frequently see and hear, then, is often a plaything of the international elite — a corporate grandee, a leisured athlete, or a refined novelist who flies in and out of the West, counts on its globalizing appendages for wealth, and then mocks those who make it all possible — but never to the point that their own actions would logically follow their rhetoric and thus cost them so dearly.

We might expect that a chagrined Ms. Nooyi would resign from Pepsi since it is the glossy fingernail of the American middle finger that apparently so bothers her. We pray that Mr. Khan will stay among the mobs and rioters of the madrassas and mosques he stirred up. Perhaps novelist Roy can write in an indigenous Indian language, peddle her books at home, and thereby disinvest from this hegemonic system that drives her to fury.

Meanwhile, Nooyi appears to have weathered the storm her remarks created. However, if traffic on this site is any indication, there are still people interested in the issue.

And we’re still not drinking Pepsi or Gatorade here.

Powerade Conversion: Remember the Boston Tea Party!

May 21, 2005 | By | No Comments

Remember the Boston Tea Party!! This is a country founded on a boycott. . .

From astute reader, “ESL”:

Pepsi basically sells sugar water. One sugar water is just as good as another. . . .I would think that Gatorade will be the biggest loser. I’m willing to bet that demographics for Gatorade would be seriously offended at what [Indra Nooyi] said.

baseball-boycott 005.jpg

Enjoying POWERADE After Victory!

Goodbye Gatorade. The reader quoted above is right. I’ll give you demographics: Here’s the Dude, with his buddies on the Savage baseball team, after a stupendous victory, fueled by (Coca-Cola’s) POWERADE!

Ironically, this Pepsi debacle follows close on the heals of my decision to no longer purchase Starbucks products either. (Their corporate chiefs donate almost 100% to Democrats.) Sean over at The American Mind took me to task for that one, saying that:

My life is more productive and fun because I don’t deeply examine the politics behind everything I buy. Doing that means letting ideology rule your life. That’s a very unconservative way to live.

Good for Sean. But ideas (principles) should rule your life. “Boycott” is really shorthand for something subtler, and ultimately more powerful: the power of consumer choice. The market has such an elegantly clean focus to it — I’m the customer; I choose.

And, God bless America, I’ve got a lot of products to choose from. It’s just sugar water.


The Dude drinking Powerade

Pepsi spends millions of dollars trying to influence my buying decisions by working to associate their products in my mind with appealing, trendy images: Britney one year; Beyonce the next. So why would it be better to buy their products because I think their spokesperson is cool (or “hot,” as the case may be). . . rather than to take the time to assess, as best I can, their corporate values?

Of course we don’t usually know much about their values. But sometimes we do. Sometimes their CEO is imprudent enough to stand up in front of a large audience and insult America. (Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo) And, sometimes their corporate leadership is completely, and publicly, allied with a political party that advocates partial-birth abortion. (Howard Schultz, Starbucks)

Sean wrote that: “When Dunkin’ Donuts creates an atmosphere as inviting as Starbucks in a location I can find and have free WiFi. . .then I’ll start going there.”

Fair enough. Dunkin’ Donuts should have WiFi. I bet they soon will. The exciting thing about the free market is that it could happen. Competition gives us what we want. We just have to demand it.


342 cases. . . of Gatorade

tossed in the Boston Harbor, Dec. 1773

There is a direct parallel between democracy and capitalism. In the political system, the ballot box referees the referendum. In the economic market, it’s the cash register.

Pepsi. . . Starbucks. . . you lost my vote.


Thanks, Mudville Gazette, Open Post.

For a different view: The Anchoress, mad at Nooyi, still loves Diet Pepsi . . .

20 May



Indra Nooyi: Meet the USS Pueblo and Digitus Impudicus

May 20, 2005 | By | 3 Comments

So what’s all the fuss about Indra Nooyi’s Columbia speech. . . and the digitus impudicus? Images are important. Symbolism is powerful. Look to the story about the USS Pueblo and the crew’s defiant use of the “impudent finger.”


Captured Crew Members,

USS Pueblo

In January 1968, the North Koreans captured the USS Pueblo. One crew member was killed when the ship was captured and the remaining crew of 82 were held prisoner for 11 months.

The North Koreans released photos of the captured crew as propaganda. . . with middle fingers extended. The brave and inventive crew told the North Koreans it was “The Hawaiian Good Luck Sign.”


To their credit, The New York Times and The Washington Post published the photo without comment. But the October 18, 1968 issue of Time magazine (hello, Newsweek) published this foolish caption:

The North Koreans are having a hard time proving to the world that the captive crewmen of the USS Pueblo are a contrite and cooperative lot. Last week Pyongyang’s flacks tried again — and lost to the US Navy. In this class-reunion picture, three of the crewmen have managed to use the medium for a message, furtively getting off the U.S. hand signal of obscene derisiveness and contempt.

Embarrassed, the North Koreans tortured the crew. They suffered through what the survivors dubbed “Hell Week.”

Images are important. Symbolism is powerful.

The great irony of Nooyi challenging her audience to greater cultural sensitivity, while flagrantly violating that principle herself is staggering. In fact, she says in her latest apology that “Regrettably, I’ve proven my own point.”

Despite the apology, Hugh Hewitt observes that it still appears that no one at PepsiCo “understands why people are outraged.”

Brave men were tortured for that impudent finger, that’s why.

# # #


The USS Pueblo is a popular tourist attraction on the Taedong River in Pyongyang, North Korea

LINKS (updating throughout the day):

There’s a new Pepsi boycott page here.

And more from Donald Sensing: “if it’s true that “the personal is political,” it’s also true at Ms. Nooyi’s rarefied altitude that the personal is the corporate.”

And Corante, with a discussion of brand management, suggesting that Pepsi start a blog as an outlet for “engaging with the enraged community of Pepsi drinkers.”

Michelle Malkin weighs in. . .

Hugh Hewitt follows the story and links to two parody sites: Curt Jester and Huffington’s Toast — both have developed illustrations for Nooyi’s talk. When I read her speech, one of my first thoughts was that this kind of parody pictures would be in production quickly. Pepsi should have known it, too.

Thanks, Greyhawk, for Open Post at Mudville Gazette. . .

More at The Write Wing Conspiracy

UPDATE April 7, 2007 from an Alert Reader at Little Green Footballs on British vs American captive sailors.

19 May



Indra Nooyi: $5 Million Gets You Bimbos . . . and Boycotts. . .

May 19, 2005 | By | 5 Comments

Indra Nooyi made $5.5 MILLION US total direct compensation in 2003. She was #12 in the list of the top earners among CFO’s.


I explain below what I mean by “bimbo” in the headline. It’s not what you think (well, not exactly). . .

But first: Welcome Powerline readers. . .I like very much Scott Johnson’s comments about Indra Nooyi’s Columbia speech (see post below) where he highlights the “immaturity of her remarks” and he concludes:

. . .they are indeed sophomoric, as though an audacious undergraduate had sought to impersonate the distinguished executive of a multinational corporation and parody the genre of the commencement speech. The trope of the middle finger brings it almost to the level of . . .transcendent tastelessness . . .

I also think Powerline reader, Tom MacLaughlin’s comment about the ridiculous mismatch between topic and audience is particularly astute: “No doubt a few of the Americans in Ms. Nooyi’s audience might qualify as boorish, but speaking to the Columbia crowd on this is like lecturing a group of public interest law graduates on the evils of greed.”

And then Scott concludes his post with a letter from Eric Egland, writing from Iraq. This one will make you tear up, as he offers better “finger” examples Ms. Noori might have considered, and would discover if “she could ride on a combat patrol here”:

She might notice her fingers moistened by sweat as she unconsciously gripped her armrest, noticing a tinge of fear from attack by a roadside bomb–the same fear felt by myself and every other American on Iraq’s roads. . .In Afghanistan, many children and parents stick their thumbs straight up when Americans pass, demonstrating gratefulness for no longer living under the Taliban.

Be sure to read Egland’s whole letter. He concludes by saying he will no longer be drinking Pepsi, or using their products. Neither will I.

For responding to Ms. Nooyi’s insult with a Pepsi boycott, I am being taken to task. An anonymous reader from India responded to my first post on Nooyi’s speech below by saying: “Only sheer childishness and lack of maturity would lead to not using pepsico products and offloading pepsico shares!”

I’ll write more about my boycott rationale in another post. Let me say again: Ms. Nooyi makes over $5 MILLION a year — and she needs tutoring in PR 101?

When I talked with Elaine Palmer, Director of External Affairs, at PepsiCo yesterday, she was trying to convince me that Nooyi had a “positive message.” But, Nooyi used a “bimbo” in the speech, over and over and over again. Palmer knew this. That’s why she was clearly shaken.


So what’s a “bimbo?” I am indebted here to my friend Merrie Spaeth, at Spaeth Communications, who developed this concept. Merrie puts out a regular “Bimbo Awards” report in which she reports on all the “unfortunate” statements made by public figures. It’s named after the young woman who, after a public affair, proclaimed to the world: “I am not a bimbo!” The statement went around the world, and what do you remember today? The negative. Bimbo, Bimbo, Bimbo. . . Follow on — Richard Nixon: “I am not a crook.” What do you remember? Crook, Crook, Crook.

Now, piling on. Let’s look back at Indra’s speech:

Today,. . . I want you to consider how you will conduct your business careers so that the other continents see you extending a hand . . . not the finger. . .

And again:

Now, as never before, it’s important that we give the world a hand. . .not the finger.

And again:

So remember, when you extend your arm to colleagues and peoples from other countries, make sure that you’re giving a hand . . .not the finger.

What do you remember? What’s the message? The finger, the finger, the finger. . .

That’s what $5 mil gets you??!!

Pepsi? Gatorade? Count me out.

Somebody pass me a Diet Coke.


Donald Sensing wants to boycott, just “because it simply is a really lousy speech.”

Sierra Faith says: “Tired of this Hate America First crowd. They’re bores. . ”

Wizbang also discussing. . .

The American Mind on not boycotting in general . . .

Thanks to Greyhawk, Open Post.