Op Ed By: Chris Lubin

Before you do anything else, watch this video. 

OK. Made it through? I had a hard time getting through it myself. Let’s take a quick look at a few scenes that encapsulate why this ad is a piece of sh*t. 

1. Co-opting A Movement 

pepsi1.w710.h473.2xLove, join the conversation, peace…

These are all very nice sentiments and things we should strive for every single day, but they aren’t the typical signs you see at real protests. Real protests such as the ones where people are putting their safety in danger because they’re afraid they might walk outside with a hoodie on and get shot, or that their family won’t be able to return to America if they board a plane to their native country. They’re certainly not as happy as the perfectly casted multi-racial group of actors walking down this very well-lit street with no menacing or threatening police officers present any step of the way. They even placed pretty people to eat next to the protests while it was happening. The police aren’t in riot gear, apparently seeing no threat from this massive group of protesters. 

Now look, I work in advertising for big brands. I know major corporations are risk averse and don’t want to alienate potential consumers who don’t share in what should be non-controversial views like equality and freedom of expression. That’s why no one has ever asked a corporation to make a resistance commercial. If you aren’t going to be on the ground with organizers and protesters or help to pay legal funds for those wrongly incarcerated, then don’t use a movement for your own commercial gain. At the very least, provide food and beverages to people who are using their time to speak on something they believe in.  

2. Tropes, Unintentional Racism, More Tropes 

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All black people are good for in commercials are for Hip-Hop dancing, tattoos, giving dap and staring lustfully at white women. All the people of color in this ad are mostly used to check boxes and unintentionally accent how what could have been a profound message has been entirely whitewashed and commercialized. 

 

3. Our White Savior 

kendall-jenner-pepsi


Ohhhh boy. Another white woman swoops in to save the day.  

I would’ve had a problem with this closing scene if it was from just about anyone. However, the fact that it’s a Kardashian Jenner – the physical embodiment of wealth, entitlement and privilege in America – shifts this ad from just terrible advertising toward the realm of parody, absurdity and offensiveness. 

Do you remember the protests in Baton Rouge after Alton Brown was gunned down by police officers? 
 

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This is the lasting image of those protests. A young, black woman walking up to a group of white police officers dressed like they’re ready to confront ground troops in Northern Iraq, and able at a moment’s notice to gun her down. 

The ending of this thing is even more absurd. Once Jenner hands the very peaceful policeman the can of Pepsi, the crowd goes crazy — like they were all Tyrone Biggums and it was time for the free crack giveaway. 

If I knew all I had to do to avoid being shot by the police while black was carry a Pepsi around with me, I would’ve been doing it this entire time. 

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