This piece was originally published in PLU’s student newspaper, The Mast
JEFF DUNN; LASR GENERAL Manager; firstname.lastname@example.org
Wow, I had no idea this corporation run by rich one-percenters lacked a basic understanding of the social context of the time! That’s crazy!
“What do millennials like? How can we reach that demographic with our new campaign?” one socially detached Pepsi public relations director asks his board.
“I know!” one potentially well-meaning but equally detached board member pipes up. “Kids love fighting systemic racism! What if we solved police brutality with Pepsi?”
This notion is met with many “harumphs” of agreement, and before long, Pepsi has produced an advertisement starring Kendall Jenner. In a nearly three-minute video, Jenner is shown walking amidst a crowd of protesters before she plucks a can of soda from a cooler, marches up to the police line staring down the protest and hands it to a cop. The cop takes it, the crowd erupts in cheers, racism is over, police brutality solved and all possible racial tension in the United States is relinquished.
Needless to say, backlash against this ad was rampant. Deray McKesson, a prominent member of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, joked online that if only he had carried a Pepsi, he wouldn’t have been arrested.
Pepsi pulled the ad within a day, apologizing to Jenner, of all people. Jenner chose to do the ad. She’s an adult. She should understand just as well as Pepsi that her actions have consequences.
This is all beside the fact that this ad was a very unsubtle way of co-opting the BLM movement, and replacing the dominant figures in it with white people.
According to their apology, “Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding. Clearly we missed the mark.” Yeah, you think so?
Who knew that in this dark age of late capitalism and unchecked imperialism, corporations would attempt to use your own ethics and deep-seated belief in social justice to sell you a can of soda? It almost makes sense that the reality that we perceive has become a parody of itself. Almost.
I’m not gonna tell you to boycott Pepsi, because it’d be nearly impossible. I just want you, dear reader, to not let corporations like Big Pepsi Cola pander to you. Don’t let them reduce your ethics and morals to selling points. Be socially conscious of your beliefs and don’t let a company sell to you based on them. And don’t expect companies like Coca-Cola to be any better just because they haven’t made a mistake… yet.