Pepsi, Where’s My Jet?


Paetyn Tatro, Staff Writer

Netflix’s new original 4-part docu-series, “Pepsi Where’s My Jet” follows former 20-year college student John Leonard on his quest to obtain a Harrier Fighter Jet. Advertised by Pepsi in the mid-1990s was a sweepstake which, unbeknownst to everyone, would lead to an enthralling court case: Leonard v. Pepsi Co. 

John Leonard was an average college student when one day, he saw an advertisement from Pepsi about a sweepstakes where obtaining a certain amount of ‘Pepsi Points’ meant that you could order anything out of a catalog provided by Pepsi. The ad that John saw offered a Harrier Jet for seven million Pepsi Points.

The Harrier Jet is a variant of a military strike attack aircraft capable of vertical/short takeoff and landing operations (V/STOL). Manufactured by Hawker Siddeley in the 1960s, the first flight was taken in 1967 and introduced in 1969 from the U.K. At the time of the Pepsi points incentive, the Harrier Jump Jet retailed for approximately 23 million dollars.

While obtaining seven million Pepsi points would prove nearly impossible, John found a loophole. The loophole was in the catalog, and it stated that in the case that someone couldn’t produce enough points to win an object, the remaining points could be bought for ten cents each if the person sent in fifteen points with the order. Thihs meant that John had to raise 700,000 dollars rather than try to get seven million points. 

However, what Pepsi failed to mention in its ad was that the Harrier Jet was not available for purchase. So when John sent in his 700,000 dollars with fifteen points and a letter explaining that he wished to redeem the jet, he was denied by Pepsi. Pepsi wrote back that since the Jet wasn’t in the catalog, it wasn’t available for purchase and they returned John’s 700,000 dollars. 

Hellbent on getting that jet, John sued Pepsi- presenting that Pepsi’s ad was misleading, and sent demand letters to both Pepsi and the advertising company that produced the commercial. Pepsi filed a case with the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York to prove that it was not required to provide the jet within the sweepstakes. 

Kimba Wood, the judge overseeing the case, ruled on August 5th in favor of Pepsi Co, resulting in John never being able to get his Fighter Jet. The Pepsi points and resulting law suit has forever changed the way companies advertise.