Do you ever wonder where all of the disclaimers on commercials and advertisements came from? Why is there so much fine white print at the bottom of the screen? Well, you can partially thank John Leonard and the Pepsi points commercial for those long, drawn-out advertisements. This is the outrageously true story about a man, a jet, a life changing Pepsi commercial. Here is the story that inspired the Netflix series, Pepsi, Wheres My Jet?”
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The True Story of Pepsi, Where’s My Jet?
In 1995 PepsiCo put out a commercial for merchandise that you could exchange for Pepsi Points. The Pepsi Points catalog featured merchandise such as stylish sunglasses, jean jackets, leather jackets, and more.
It all seems so simple, companies still run promotions like this in 2024. However, the commercial featured an actor flying a Harrier vertical jet that could be redeemed for 7,000,000 Pepsi Points. The actor claimed, “It sure beats the bus!”
There was no small print in the ad about the jet being a joke and unredeemable to the public. At the time, 20 year old John Leonard found a loophole in the commercial. The jet was worth 32 million dollars and he could buy 7,000,000 worth of points for around $0.10 a piece. He contacted a friend who happened to be a multi millionaire, Todd Hoffman, and the two noticed that the jet was redeemable for only $700,000, a fraction of the purchase price. Leonard sent in a check to PepsiCo who denied the deal. In short, this is where things got messy.
Who Owns PepsiCo?
Pepsi CPO at the time, Brian Swette, said “it was clearly a joke.” Here is where Leonard vs Pepsico began. The Pepsi, Wheres My Jet lawyer figured they could shake the situation off and offered Leonard a million dollar settlement to move along from his pain and suffering. Too bad that’s not what Leonard wanted. He wanted the Harrier jet.
Did John Leonard Get Anything From Pepsi?
I’m sure you’re wondering, what happened? After Leonard denied the settlement money from Pepsi, he hired a well known lawyer and took the company to court. The Pepsi, Wheres My Jet commercial was carefully analyzed and reviewed. The case did not hold up in a court of law do to multiple reasons such as, the advertisement never actually constituting an offer on the jet itself.
Pepsi never wound up cashing the 700,000 dollar check, so Leonard was not out any money except for maybe lawyer fees (yikes). The company did in fact continue to air the commercial with the jet; however, they raised the price to 7 million coins and added a disclaimer stating it was a joke.
Watch Pepsi, Where’s My Jet on Netflix
Finally, in 2022 Netflix came out with a documentary on the situation. There are four episodes covering the Pepsi, Wheres My Jet story. If you are wanting a quick preview, check out the Pepsi, Wheres My Jet trailer. The series contains roughly 30 minute episodes detailing the entire case.
John Leonard Pepsi himself is in the documentary. Starting with his mother and the many jobs he had held over his beginning years as a true goal getter. The documentary even has many famous actors and actresses such as Cindy Crawford, who once represented Pepsi. And, everyone is coincidentally drinking from two cups in which they have to choose a favorite to see if they are really Pepsi fans.
In conclusion, a 20 year old Leonard with a dream of owning a military jet was met with disappointment. He did show an intense amount of perseverance and determination as he went through the case with pride. He was determined to own that jet but was sold a little bit short. If you want to catch the entire Pepsi, Wheres My Jet story, head over to Netflix. Thus, this wildly true story certainly made history. Thankfully we now have all of the disclaimers, just in case you think you could be the next jet owner.