Tasteless? Well, OK, But There’s Somethin’ happnen’ here..
April 6, 2017
I’m a connoisseur of the tasteless, so I thought the outrage was overdone. Ok, releasing this on the anniversary of MLK’s death was tone-deaf.
But if there’s one thing I do know.for.sure. – failure teaches you more than success.
Worth a moment, because advertisers do have a better ear for the zeitgeist than, say, most journalists. Which is why so many successful Republican operatives come from the world or PR rather than wonkish think tanks.
Pepsi has withdrawn and apologized for a new ad campaign featuring Kendall Jenner, after the company faced a backlash for a video that co-opted the imagery of protest movements to sell soda.
“Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding,” the company said in a statement to the Associated Press. “Clearly we missed the mark, and we apologize.”
The video, which Pepsi had planned to use in a global ad campaign, featured reality TV star and model Jenner coming across a scene of protest. Jenner joins the crowd, which approaches a line of police officers. What could be a tense standoff in the real world defuses into cheers and smiles when the Keeping up with the Kardashians star picks up a can of cola and offers it to an officer.
The image of Jenner approaching the police clearly referenced the iconic photograph of Ieshia Evans, an 18-year-old black woman who stood tall in the face of heavily armored riot police during a Black Lives Matter protest following the fatal shooting of Alton Sterling by police in 2016.
The audacity of co-opting the visual language of resistance movements to sell sugary beverages prompted an immediate and harsh backlash on social media.
Bernice King, the daughter of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr, joined the fray on Wednesday, posting a photo of her father with the tag, “If only Daddy would have known about the power of #Pepsi.” The video was released on 4 April, the 49th anniversary of King’s assassination.
Not the first time this has been done. This classic Coke ad appeared in relatively chill 1971, as opposed to red-hot 1968, but showed who advertisers thought was winning the culture war.
That’s the crux of successful marketing today: activism is in. “Our activism is currently mediated by brands,” says Will Fowler, creative director of Headspace. “Brands are allowing people to pat themselves on the back without them personally having to sacrifice anything.” It’s true. Popping into a warm, extremely convenient Starbucks for a sweet caffeine pick-up isn’t the same as driving to Calais on a Wednesday night with a boot full of baby carriers. I swapped one taxi app for another and felt incredibly smug. We’re all feeling the need to right the wrongs of today’s Brexit and Trump world – but few people are willing to actually sacrifice anything. If a brand can allow me to carry on living exactly as I was and fuel my social conscience then they can have all my pocket money.
I think I like this, from 2012, the best.
Final word to Stephen Colbert.