John Leonard took his Pepsi challenge to court. The 21-year old business student says he's collected his Pepsi points and wants his prize - A Harrier fighter jet like the one pictured in a pepsi promotional TV ad. On Tuesday, his Miami lawyers filed a lawsuit in Dade County, Fla., Circuit Court, accusing PepsiCo Inc. of breach of contract, fraud, deceptive and unfair trade practices, and misleading advertising. Pepsi maintains the commercial was a spoof and says it has a perfect right to use humor in its advertising.
Leonard, a student at Shoreline Community College, saw a television ad last year as part of a Pepsi Stuff promotion in which customers who had racked up points on beverage containers could claim prizes. As a joke, the company also "offered" the $70 million fighter jet for 7 million points. That means Leonard would have had to drink 16,800,000 cans of Pepsi to earn the Harrier.
To avoid having to drink that much Pepsi, Leonard called the company and said he was told he had the option of buying Pepsi points for 10 cents each. Leonard rounded up five investors and on March 28 delivered to Pepsi 15 original Pepsi Points plus a check for $700,008.50 for the remaining 6,999,985 points, "plus shipping and handling," the lawsuit says.
After Leonard threatened to sue because he didn't get the jet, the company filed a pre-emptive suit July 18 in federal court in New York, seeking to have his claims declared frivolous and seeking reimbursement for the company's legal fees.
Leonard denies his actions are a publicity stunt or an attempt to get Pepsi to settle out of court. He saw a plane as an entrepreneurial venture, saying perhaps he could take customers on thrill rides.