Part One of the Pepsi Points FUBAR:
Date: 13 Nov 1998 20:09:32 GMT
Subject: Re: Maths skills
Well, documentation on this is pretty sparse. However, it does appear
to have been real. The plaintiff was John Leonard, a 21-year-old
college student. It goes something like this:
As most of you know, Pepsi ran a promotion in which "Pepsi points"
be redeemed for merchandise. In a commercial they ran, they listed
some of the merchandise that could be bought, concluding with a
Harrier "Jump Jet" for 7 million Pepsi points. The rules of the promotion
stated that a purchaser of any given piece of merchandise must redeem
at least 15 original Pepsi points, but could purchase any additional
points needed to purchase the item from PepsiCo at a price of US$.10 each.
So, on March 28, 1996, John Leonard submitted a Pepsi Stuff order form
along with 15 original pepsi points, and a check for US$700,008.50 for
the remaining Pepsi points and shipping and handling charges.
On May 7 of the same year, Pepsi refused to deliver the Harrier jet,
returning his check and giving him a coupon for three free cases of pepsi
Leonard resubmitted on May 14, and Pepsi refused again. Leonard
submitted the request a third time, got turned down again, and then
filed suit against PepsiCo for breach of contract and fraud.
The only actual case file I can find on this is located at
http://www.fcsl.edu/cdr2web/leonard.php3, which purports to be
a copy of case #96-44518 in the United States District Court,
Southern District of New York. I can't find anything on this, or for that
particular court, anywhere on government pages (granted, I didn't look
all that hard).
CNN did some coverage of the story at the time, running a story quoting
Pentagon officials as stating that even were John Leonard to win the
case, Pepsi would not be able to acquire a Harrier jet, as they are illegal
to own by private citizens. That story is at
So, if you take CNN and the Florida Coastal School of Law (admitedly not
exactly a high profile law school) as reliable sources, then the story
appears to be true.
Erik Nielsen, Cyberhighway Internet Services NOC
And Part Two, an earlier FUBAR by an advertising company:
Many years ago, Burma Shave had a set of signs reading:
Send the labels
From a thousand jars
And we'll give you
A trip to Mars.
Some retailer collected the required labels, getting much publicity.
They were planning to get him a trip to the Mars bar factory, but
somebody came up with a place in Germany(?) named Mars, so they sent
him there instead. He was quite satisfied.
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