The upcoming docuseries recounts the story of a Pepsi fan’s quest for a promotional jet.
In the mid-90s, Pepsi launched their Pepsi Points promotion, where customers gathering the labels from Pepsi products could redeem them for various Pepsi-branded merchandise. The commercial famously advertised that, if a customer could save up 7 million points, they could redeem a Pepsi-branded Harrier jet. Obviously, this was facetious, as no one expected anyone to actually bother saving up that many points. But one man did, and he fought with Pepsi for years to get that jet.
Pepsi, Where’s My Jet? is a new docuseries coming to Netflix this week detailing the story of John Leonard, a college student who utilized a loophole in the system to obtain 7 million Pepsi Points, and demanded the Harrier jet.
“John had this kind of Spielbergian quality about him when he was younger where it was just, like, anything is possible,” explains the show’s director, Andrew Renzi, in an interview with The Guardian. “I don’t know if you have ever seen the film Being There, but I had this thing in my head where John Leonard at 19 years old is Peter Sellers.”
Renzi was originally planning to workshop a fictionalized version of the story for the show, but when he consulted Leonard, who currently works as a park ranger, he realized he needed the full story.
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“It was a long time ago,” Leonard explained. “And I just kind of wanted to keep it back there, as something funny that happened a long time ago.” His opinion changed following the success of series like Tiger King, which brought showrunners out to hunt for more interesting docuseries subjects. “There were some real schmucky people that would lay on this really thick, used-car salesman, Hollywood type of thing. But Renzi sent me an email. And of all the different emails I got, it felt really sincere. It didn’t seem like it was the same old thing of, you know, blowing smoke up your ass. But simultaneously, [Todd Hoffman] and I had a conversation. He said something along the lines of: ‘This is a cool story. It needs to be told, and it needs to be told by the right person.’ He said: ‘When I die, I’d be happy to have this be on my epitaph.’”