January 31, 2023
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John Leonard’s attempt to get PepsiCo to deliver on its Pepsi Points promises is the focus of a new documentary. Pepsi, where’s my plane?


The star of one of the hottest documentaries on Netflix arrived in St. Louis yesterday. John Leonard’s epic attempt to make Pepsi succeed in a high-profile advertising campaign is a wildly interesting story told in Pepsi, where’s my plane?, which is now among the top ten streaming services in 13 countries.

But Leonard wasn’t here to promote the film. He just brought his kids to grandparents for Christmas.

Leonard’s wife, Dottie, is one of six Powers children raised in Clayton by Pierce Powers Jr. and his wife Sue. And if the name Piers Powers sounds familiar to you, there could be several reasons for this – Piers Powers, Jr. is the founder and CEO of a local insurance company, and president of the Council on Foreign Affairs non-profit organization in St. Louis. seeks to help St. Louis establish international connections. His son Pierce III co-owns Lona’s Li’l Eats, Fox Park’s favorite eatery, where Pierce III and his wife Lona Lo serve food from her home province of Yunnan in China.


Piers Powers, Jr. notes that his son-in-law’s St. Louis connections are far from the only local connections to the film. Naturally, Jon Hamm makes a cameo appearance in the ad-oriented film. And as we get to episodes two and three, the spoiled local son, Parkway Central alum Michael Avenatti, threatens to steal the show. He’s a major character in the search for John Leonard, and people familiar with Avenatti’s legal travails supposedly shattering corporations one can see intriguing parallels with the services he promises young John Leonard. (In fact, Avenatti filmed his interviews for the documentary while under house arrest. as reported to the prison.)

So here’s the story: John Leonard, a college kid, was hustling his way through a series of part-time jobs in Seattle in 1996 when he saw a Pepsi ad promoting new “Pepsi Points” that people could earn by buying Pepsi. Sunglasses were 175 points; the leather jackets were 1450. And as the commercial promised, if you get 7,000,000 points, you can get a Harrier jet.

It was a joke – or not? There were no disclaimers in the ads, and the planes cost millions more than it would have cost to earn Pepsi points. After Leonard became vaguely obsessed with the possibility, he decided to take Pepsi’s word for it and went to get a Harrier jet. Somehow, he convinced an older friend to invest $700,000 in his scheme and got all the points needed to claim his prize.


But Pepsi was not laughing. As a result, he was sued. Pepsi, where’s my plane? details the rest of the story, in which Avenatti tries to take control of the media relations strategy.

Powers Jr. has known about his son-in-law’s youthful search for a Harrier jet for decades – the story was “just a family tradition,” says Powers Jr. He adds, “This is a subject of advertising that is taught in every law school, and Netflix told him for years that he should make a documentary.”

Sue Powers says Leonard was literally “hounded” to tell his story. “He’s a very shy guy,” she says. “It will take some time to get to know him beyond the surface.”

The documentary takes viewers far beyond that surface. Last month, the Powers were very excited to travel to Los Angeles for the premiere. Now they proudly watch like a movie 100% critical acclaim on Rotten Tomatoes.

When asked to take something out of the film, Powers Jr. left him with the family.

“I can see that my daughter admires him a lot,” he says of his son-in-law. – He’s a pretty neat guy.

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