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Good and Bad PR: Good launch for SpaceX, bad launch for PepsiCo

Good PR

Did anyone watch the live SpaceX rocket launch on Tuesday evening (UK time)? I did and it was AWESOME!

I’ve never watched a rocket launch before and I now feel like I’ve been missing out on something cool for a long, long time. In case you missed this story, billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk (owner of SpaceX and Tesla) and his team launched the Falcon Heavy ship into orbit with a bit of a unique payload; his very own red Tesla Roadster convertible, in which a dummy wearing a SpaceX spacesuit was sat behind the wheel.

It took off from Cape Canaveral in Florida on Tuesday and it was said beforehand that there was a 50/50 chance that it would all go south and become one very expensive firework display. Thankfully, it didn’t blow up and, to be honest, I think there was a very slim chance that an explosion was going to happen; telling the public that there’s a chance everything might go wrong appeals to their morbid curiosity, subsequently causing more people to tune in. Excellent PR.

This launch was part of SpaceX’s mission to Mars experiment and the whole thing was streamed live for people to watch from all around the world. It had a fun and playful vibe about it, what with the dummy, a ‘Don’t Panic’ sign on the dash of the car and David Bowie’s ‘Starman’ booming from the speakers. However, this was a big move forward for space travel and there’s no undermining the awesomeness of the whole thing. This was the world’s most powerful rocket and gets us closer to the mission to make travel to Mars possible in the future.

You can now watch a live stream of the Tesla in space, where it will orbit for hundreds of millions of years around the sun.

Well done Mr Musk. You truly are a PR machine.

Bad PR

Earlier this week, the global CEO of PepsiCo, the brand that owns Doritos, said that there were plans to launch some snacks specially designed for women. In a Freakonomics podcast, Indra Nooyi said "we’re getting ready to launch a bunch of them soon" and suggested that Doritos were too messy for some women and that they don’t like to crunch too loud in public or lick their fingers… and other rubbish like that.

Well Ms Nooyi, you should see me eating a bag of Doritos. In that moment, I liken myself to a wild dog that hasn’t been fed for a week; my crunches can be heard in the next county and I unashamedly split the bag open at the end to lick the flavour from the corners. In public and everything. I suppose that makes me a disgrace to the female species.

Of course, backlash ensued and people were mocking the idea of these stupid “lady Doritos” that would supposedly have a quieter crunch to them, cause less mess and fit in our handbags more easier. What glee. Even Piers Morgan took a stand, crushing a bag of Doritos live on Good Morning Britain.

Since the news broke and people got mad on social media, PepsiCo has come out saying that lady Doritos will not become (and never were going to become) a thing; specifically saying “We already have Doritos for women – they’re called Doritos.”

You could argue that no publicity is bad publicity, but PepsiCo (and specifically the CEO) managed to annoy and alienate a lot of people with this one. 

Written by Shannon Peerless, 10 Yetis @ShazzaYeti on Twitter
Seen any good or bad PR lately? You know what to do @10 Yetis on Twitter or on email

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