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“No support for Ukraine and its army”: PepsiCo restricts mentions of war in its PR?

Does Pepsi think it can ignore reality?
pepsi supports war

Credit: depositphotos

When looking for a new advertising/PR agency in Ukraine in autumn 2023, PepsiCo made it a condition for a potential partner to exclude any mention of the war, or support for Ukraine and its army in future communications, according to a brief seen by B4Ukraine.

“NO: mention of war, hostilities, aggression, military personnel (from Brand side), Armed Forces of Ukraine. NO: support Ukraine and the army. NO: negative connotation, creating a feeling of ‘unsafe,'” states the “Pepsi restrictions” section of the brief.

courtesy of B4Ukraine

The B4Ukraine Coalition contacted Pepsi offices in Ukraine and the US to ask for comment on this article but at the time of publication had not received any response.

In the meantime, the October 17 message on PepsiCo’s Instagram page announced that “PepsiCo volunteers distributed food kits to 1,200 families in the city of Borodyanka, whose homes were destroyed.” The message does not specify who exactly brutally destroyed the homes of these people.

Perhaps because PepsiCo’s Russia net profit increased by 333% to $525 million last year and the company paid about $115 million in taxes to the Kremlin? Treating such contributions as support for the economy of the aggressor state, Ukraine’s National Agency on Corruption Prevention (NACP) in September included PepsiCo in the list of international sponsors of war.

PepsiCo produces soft drinks, juices, chips, snacks, dairy products and other food products under the main brands Chester’s, Chipsy, Lay’s, Mirinda, Pasta Roni, Pepsi, Propel, Sandora, 7Up, Simba, Snack a Jacks, Sonric’s, Tropicana, etc.

The company has 19 factories, about 20,000 employees, 40,000 agricultural workers, and 600 open vacancies in Russia, according to the NACP.

The company announced the cessation of advertising activities and the production of some beverages in Russia in March 2022, while still allowing other products, such as infant formula and baby food to be sold, in order, as PepsiCo put it, “stay true to the humanitarian aspect of its business.” Yet in fact, the company continues the production and distribution of chips, snacks, and soft drinks. According to Bloomberg, PepsiCo’s revenue rose 16% in Russia and profits quadrupled, and the soda maker said operations in Russia accounted for 5% of consolidated net revenue for 2022, up from 4% a year earlier.

Now the iconic Pepsi cola is sold under the Evervess-Cola brand, although regular Pepsi Cola is still easy easily purchasable in Russian supermarkets due to the so-called parallel imports, when goods are imported without the manufacturer’s permission.

At the beginning of September last year, PepsiCo came under fire over its Russian business when the firm’s products were dropped by the Finnish parliament and Scandinavian Airlines’ operator SAS, and already on September 21, ironically, the Russian missile damaged a PepsiCo plant near Ukraine’s capital Kyiv.

A global Coalition of civil society organizations, B4Ukraine, is calling on PepsiCo to exit Russia ASAP and for the US government to issue a business advisory, warning US businesses of the growing legal, reputational, and financial risks of doing business under military control in Russia.

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