When Pepsi put out an innovative ad in 1995, the people involved never thought it would become a landmark legal case in the years to come. Netflix’s ‘Pepsi, Where’s My Jet?’ focuses on how a seemingly humorous ad turned into a court battle. Jeff Mordos, the COO of BBDO North America, which was responsible for the ad, shared his side of the story on the show. So, let’s find out more about him then, shall we?
Who is Jeff Mordos?
During the 1990s, Jeff Mordos worked as the Chief Operating Officer at BBDO North America, a distinguished advertising agency. As per the show, he was nicknamed Mr. Wolf after the ‘Pulp Fiction’ character because he could fix everything. Jeff talked about how people were desperate to work on Pepsi’s ad campaigns at the time and mentioned he gave it his all to win the battle against Coca-Cola.
The idea was simple enough: collect points by purchasing Pepsi and then redeem them for merchandise. The ad for the promotion ended with it saying the customer could get a Harrier fighter jet if they could collect seven million points. Jeff thought that the initial idea was a lot of fun; it made more out of a collect and redeem concept. He believed the ad was funny and that people would love it.
But then, John Leonard, a young man from Washington, figured out a way to spend around $700,000 to collect the seven million points required for the jet as advertised. So, he mailed the check and hoped to get a plane worth about $33 million since there were no disclaimers in the ad. Once Jeff learned about it, he thought it was preposterous and couldn’t believe someone thought it was a serious offer. At the time, Jeff felt it was a money-grab opportunity for John and didn’t want to encourage it because others might have followed suit.
This led to the company taking legal action against John and John himself filing a lawsuit against Pepsi. As per the show, around this time, Jeff had called Michael Patti, the brains behind the ad concept, and asked him to change the number of points under the jet to 700 million. Later, Jeff also asked him to add “just kidding” in parentheses. On the show, Jeff said he didn’t want to dumb the ad down, and it wasn’t an admission of guilt. He asked for it just in case someone like John thought it was real. Ultimately, a judge ruled in Pepsi’s favor, saying nobody reasonable would have taken the ad seriously.
Where is Jeff Mordos Today?
Jeff is currently self-employed and based out of New York City, New York. He was with BBDO for many years, working with several high-profile brands and managing the company’s operations. Jeff has been associated with YAI/National Institute of People with Disabilities since 1998. He’s been on the board since 2002 and became the Chairman of the Board of Trustees in 2015. Apart from that, Jeff is an independent senior management advisor. He has been running the New York Marathon for around two decades and had to overcome back surgeries that affected his daily life.
Read More: Where is Brian Swette Now?