A campaign launched by Pepsi in the Philippines in 1992 ended in disaster. This incident, in which at least 5 people died, went down in history as the Pepsi Number Fever/349 Incidents.
The year is 1992. In the Philippines, three-digit numbers are printed under the caps of Pepsi bottles. Some issues are printed more, some issues less.
Pepsi announces a big promotion. Accordingly, prizes starting from 100 pesos will be distributed to certain numbers. But these numbers will be announced on the last day. 100 pesos is about a day’s wage for a Filipino. According to the campaign, only one issue will be under two covers; That number is the 349th grand prize. 1 million pesos. 23 years’ salary of a Filipino.
This promotion was very popular at that time. People not only accumulate; He rummages through the garbage and searches everywhere. Until the big day came, everyone collected as many caps as they could and drank as much Pepsi as they could. Pepsi’s Philippine arm not only boosts sales like crazy, it also helps the stock market.
On the night of the draw (announcement), the winning number for the grand prize is announced. Voices of people screaming and rejoicing come from a house. The second screams do not come from very far away; Another house right next door. then another house nearby. Another house, another house… dozens, hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands… Nearly 800 thousand people are on the verge of going crazy that night with the joy of becoming a millionaire. I don’t know if I need to mention how poor a country the Philippines is. The grand prize is actually 40 thousand dollars. And yes, a Filipino can make that money in 23 years.
Due to a computer error, 800 thousand copies of the number that were actually supposed to be printed in two were printed. When the lucky winners go to collect their money the next day, very bad news awaits them. Pepsi tries to cover up the incident by saying “I’m sorry, we made a mistake, your caps were printed incorrectly.”
Advertising film of the campaign
People who want their money start protesting. Pepsi builds a wall at its headquarters, adds security and offers 500 pesos to victims of the mistake “as a sign of goodwill.” Approximately 500 thousand people accept the offer. This offer makes the rest even more angry. Molotov cocktails, death threats to Pepsi executives, overturned Pepsi trucks… After protesters set fire to a Pepsi warehouse, three employees inside died. Elsewhere, a mother and her child are killed as protesters attack a Pepsi truck with petrol bombs.
The courts are a different story. The court decides that Pepsi will pay 10 thousand pesos as non-pecuniary damages to approximately 5000 people who sought their rights through legal means. Here our story almost ends. But three people object to this decision. The high court decides to pay 30 thousand pesos to these three people. It doesn’t end here. Pepsi also objects to this decision. The highest court decides that Pepsi doesn’t have to pay shit and the issue is closed never to be opened again.