Pepsi commercial trivializes current political unrest
Advertisement by soda company relegates social unrest as marketing tool. | Courtesy of Creative Commons
Unless you are not on social media, you should be familiar with the huge controversy involving Pepsi. The multi-billion dollar soda company released an ad starring model Kendall Jenner in which she hands a police officer a can of Pepsi during a protest. The ad is meant to suggest that Pepsi can alleviate the great division which has arisen within the United States.
A fury of anger
People on social media quickly exploded into a fury of disbelief and anger the moment the aforementioned commercial was released. Many focused on the fact that Pepsi was suggesting they could end police brutality, while others laughed at Jenner herself for participating in such a supposedly offensive ad. It has been seen as tone-deaf and making light of the civil unrest within the United States, a trivialization of today's street protests. According to Deray Mckesson, a Black Lives Matter activist on Twitter, “If I had carried Pepsi I guess I never would have been arrested. Who knew?” Yet despite all of the criticism and the ad being retracted it can be looked at as a success by Pepsi. While the commercial does make light of the ongoing political struggles and racial relations in America, that is not the purpose of the ad.
The point of the ad is to put the consumer ahead of the everyday citizen and reinforce the idea of unprejudiced consumerism. The focus is to join one brand and, while the brazen approach taken was not ideal, there were aspects which did succeed. The protesters carry very bland signs including Peace, Jump in or Join the Conversation. These phrases have been used tirelessly by companies to get customers to partake through social media. The huge amount of critics responding to the ad on social media are doing nothing but giving more attention to Pepsi — an unintended victory.
There is some hyper-sensitivity which has emerged with the growth of social media. Companies must watch what they say as to not offend any group of people or belief system. Today’s culture is built to tear apart ads such as the one Pepsi released, but in the haste to destroy it there is an over-analysis of a cola commercial. In the end the ad is using an action which has been in great use over the past several years to promote its brand and reinforce the idea of consumer capitalism. While it does make several great gaffes, much of the overreaction by the world is unnecessary. Those obsessed with the Kardashian-Jenner family were satisfied in getting yet another dose of the family. The progressives who so adamantly attacked Pepsi felt as though they won a big battle, although the victory is quite small compared to the many defeats they have suffered with the election and new legislation. Those who see the foolishness of inserting politics into a soda commercial have somewhere to point. The media wins with its articles and opinion pieces. And ultimately all of these viewpoints come back to one brand: Pepsi. That is advertisement at its finest.