by G. Brown
Pepsi is getting a lot of push back following its newest ad that attempted to portray the soda as being at the center of bringing the world together during a time when it is at its most chaotic.
The new spot features Kendall Jenner surrounded by more than 2 minutes of various clips from several real protests that have erupted since the election of America’s current president.
Here’s the scene…Jenner is doing a fashion model shoot as the world is embroiled in protests around her. Jenner then whips off her blond wig, runs to the middle of the action where she eventually approaches a line of police officers. She hands an officer a Pepsi…all is right with the world, fade to black…scene. Nope…didn’t exaggerate that one bit, don’t believe me—see for yourself….
Pepsi no doubt was hoping the commercial would stir something up with millennials and it has…well, more like struck a nerve. Twitter slammed Pepsi for everything from it’s use of a Kendall Jenner, to the protests footage, but the poor taste of the commercial was trending on April 4th, the anniversary of the assassination of Civil Rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King.
Pepsi should have done its homework, April 4th was not the day to have this commercial trending as many were commemorating the death of Dr. King. But even worse, it’s choice for the ‘voice of a generation’ should actually be someone who has a voice. Kendall and all the Kardasians are a symptom of the problem…not the solution. The Kardasians, like Trump, epitomize the idea that the rich and powerful are the only people that matter while Black lives, the poor, Muslims, the disenfranchised are at the root of crime and all of America’s ills.
Then there is also the cliche of a White-savior…a White woman offers a police officer a drink and the world (cue the Heavenly choir) is all of a sudden miraculously transformed. Forget protesting, struggling and fighting for rights…just take a Pepsi to give to the officer the next time you’re being profiled or stopped and frisked and poof!
Back in the day, around the early ’70s, Pepsi’s biggest competitor Coca Cola had its most famous ad campaign ever “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing”. It was about finding harmony in a world when menacing issues such as the Vietnam War tore us apart. The idea was simple…Coke wasn’t just a beverage, but more of an olive branch that was known universally and when shared could help bridge the differences of people by sharing that basic commonality.
The lyrics …”I’d like to buy the world a home and furnish it with love,
Grow apple trees and honey bees, and snow white turtle doves.
I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony,
I’d like to buy the world a Coke and keep it company.
It’s the real thing, Coke is what the world wants today.“
The lyrics were simple and moving when matched with video of people of all colors and genders from around the world sharing the idea and a Coke. The song became so popular that a group recorded it as a full-length song (minus the Coca Cola line) and it became a huge hit. It was the right message because it was in tune with the emotions of the time and the pulse of the people. It conveyed a message of love and hope by showing everyday, common people as the solution–no overpaid celebrity to pitch the cause, just the consumers who bought their product.
Pepsi missed the mark by using all the wrong imagery to echo the problems and a solution that comes at the hands of yet another White woman savior whose family is famous for nothing other than being famous
What do you think….did Pepsi launch its biggest blunder? Or should people just have a Pepsi and chill, it is only a commercial after all?