That Time Pepsi Promised To Give Away A Harrier Jet
— Updated on 14 September 2021

That Time Pepsi Promised To Give Away A Harrier Jet

— Updated on 14 September 2021
John McMahon
John McMahon

Buy Pepsi products, collect Pepsi points and use them to claim prizes like t-shirts, or – for 7 million points – a Harrier jump jet.

It seemed like a simple, tongue-in-cheek concept to the marketing wizards at Pepsi in 1995; entice the ‘Pepsi Generation’ into earning points to subsequently redeem them for rewards as part of their Pepsi Stuff campaign.

The boundary-pushing, too-smart-for-its-own-good initiative was heroed with an engaging commercial that teased the possibility of using accrued points to actually redeem a fully-functioning Harrier fighter jet for 7,000,000 points – or so they jokingly thought.

To John Leonard, a 21-year-old business student, this was no joke.

Pepsi Harrier Jet

“People say, ‘well didn’t you want a t-shirt?’ and I say, well when there’s a Harrier out there for 7 million Pepsi points why not aim your sights a little higher,” said Leonard, according to CBS News.

It seemed clear to everyone except him that Pepsi probably weren’t in a position to giveaway a fighter jet, but to his credit, the parametres for the promotion were clear.

After collecting a certain number of Pepsi labels, the fine print on the bottles said that consumers were allowed to purchase the remaining Pepsi points they needed to claim any item at a cost of just 10 cents apiece. Essentially, he didn’t actually need to physically buy that much Pepsi to qualify for the jet.

Leonard realised he’d only require US$700,000 to buy the points needed for the plane, which, at the time, sported a price-tag of around US$33 million.

With five wealthy investors backing his ambitious scheme, Leonard sent off a cheque for 700 grand – alongside his initial handful of Pepsi labels – to the relevant department demanding the delivery of his war machine.

While I’m sure Leonard and his compatriots would have loved to have taken the jet for a spin, it’s more likely they were confident Pepsi would settle for a sum far greater than the one they invested.

To cut a long story short, a legal battle ensued which eventually ended in a summary judgement by the courts in favour of Pepsi, ruling that “no objective person could reasonably have concluded that the commercial actually offered consumers a Harrier Jet.”

For further fine print of the legal case and to watch the commercial for yourself, check out this video from Today I Found Out’s YouTube channel.

Coincidentally, the mid-90’s was a glorious era for ostentatious airborne marketing campaigns, with Pepsi paying Air France a pretty penny in 1996 to re-brand one of their Concordes in their colours.

RELATED: A Billionaire’s Simple Method To Identifying Business Opportunities

Subscribe to B.H. Magazine

John McMahon
John McMahon is a founding member of the Boss Hunting team who honed his craft by managing content across website and social. Now, he's the publication's General Manager and specialises in bringing brands to life on the platform.


Share the article