Where are Todd Hoffman and John Leonard today?

Pepsi, Where’s my Jet? on Netflix tells the story of John Leonard and Todd Hoffman’s attempt to take on Pepsi after they alleged that a commercial offered a Harrier jet as a collect-and-redeem promotional prize.

In law school, some cases are notorious because they invoke major legal questions and spur ongoing conversation among students. Brown v. Board of Education and Marbury v. Madison first come to mind. Other cases make their way into law school lore because of the peculiar or unique facts that bring the parties together.

My favorite case in law school was Leonard v. PepsiCo and Netflix’s new documentary series Pepsi, Where’s my Jet? tells the story of this remarkable lawsuit.

What is Pepsi, Where’s my Jet? About?

Embroiled in the Cola wars, Pepsi needed to make a splash to compete with Coke. It had poured tons of money into aggressive advertisements that featured celebrities, models, and other cultural figures to appeal to a younger generation of soda lovers.

To incentivize even more soda drinking, Pepsi unveiled a new campaign that allowed consumers to collect points with each Pepsi purchase and trade those points in for branded merchandise. In a commercial promoting this new program, a teenager is shown wearing various Pepsi products. The corresponding points for each item are shown throughout.

In the end, however, the teen is shown landing a harrier jet next to his school. Seven million flashes on the screen denote the points needed to redeem the jet, with no language indicating that it’s a joke nor any disclaimer to confirm.

A young man named John Leonard saw this commercial and wanted that jet. He teamed up with Todd Hoffman, an older businessman, to devise a plan to purchase enough Pepsi to trade it in for the jet.

Once they acquired the requisite points, Pepsi fought the duo all the way to federal court. Along the way, the once-superstar-now-incarcerated attorney Michael Avenatti join to launch a media blitz against Pepsi.

The district court ultimately determined that the commercial didn’t constitute a genuine offer because it was littered with jokes and hyperbole throughout. But Leonard v. PepsiCo continues to be one of law school’s more hotly debated cases.

Where are John Leonard and Todd Hoffman today?

The pair ultimately lost in court after giving up Pepsi’s settlement offer, but they’ve remained close. They initially met on a mountain climbing expedition in Alaska, and they’ve continued climbing ever since.

Today, John Leonard is a park ranger living in Alaska. And he continues to share his story about how he went toe-to-toe with one of the largest corporations in America. Todd Hoffman had been a successful businessman, involved in ventures ranging in industries from automotive to real estate. He survived an episode of brain cancer in the early 90s and faced another harrowing bout of cancer in 2021. However, these challenges haven’t prevented him from climbing.

John and Todd never got their jet, but their entertaining candor about this wild ordeal makes viewers wish they had succeeded.

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