The GuardianThe Guardian

‘Pepsi weren’t counting on a dreamer like me’: The student who sued a soft drink giant for a $23m fighter jet

By Stuart Heritage

16 Nov 2022 · 6 min read

Editor's Note

Pepsi Co. forgot to add small print pointing out a joke in one of their 90s advertising campaigns - the oversight led to a battle for a jet. The Guardian explores the "wildly entertaining" events.

In 1996, PepsiCo – then known for creating the young, cool, carbonated drink of a generation – made an incredible mistake. The company had just launched its Pepsi Points scheme, in which customers could save Pepsi labels and redeem them against Pepsi-branded merchandise. Sixty tokens would get you a hat. Four hundred and you’d get a denim jacket. But in the commercial accompanying the launch, Pepsi went further, joking that anyone who collected 7m labels would be eligible for a brand new Harrier jump jet. The mistake? Pepsi forgot to add any small print pointing out that it was a joke.

That one oversight now forms the basis for a wildly entertaining Netflix series, entitled Pepsi, Where’s My Jet? It tells the story of John Leonard, a Washington State community college student who decided to take Pepsi at its word. After quickly realising that buying 7m cans or bottles of Pepsi would be prohibitively expensive, Leonard saw a disclaimer revealing that, rather than collecting labels, consumers could buy Pepsi Points for 10 cents each. A $23m Harrier jump jet for just $700,000? That was the bargain of the century. Over four episodes, the show recounts one young man’s determination to take on a multinational corporation to get what an advert had promised him.

Sign in to informed

  • Curated articles from premium publishers, ad-free
  • Concise Daily Briefs with quick-read summaries
  • Read, listen, save for later, or enjoy offline
  • Enjoy personalized content