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Sunday, May 26, 2019

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Pepsi ad receives international outrage


Pepsi’s latest commercial, while competing for biggest PR fail within the last two weeks, has managed to speak volumes about nothing being too complex of an issue for advertising.

The ad began with young people gathering to protest with police maintaining a watchful eye on the crowd. Kendall Jenner, member of the Kardashian clan and prolific “Instagirl” supermodel, notices the parade of protesters and leaves her photo shoot to join in. Near the end of the ad, Jenner breaks to the front lines of the crowd and hands a policeman a Pepsi. The ad concludes with cheers from the protesters.

The music and imagery of the advertisement aimed to comment on current social topics like police brutality, racial tension and the empowerment of women, but based on the public response, Pepsi clearly missed the mark.

Using an advertisement about a sugary liquid to discuss these complex and controversial issues seems kind of ridiculous. The capitalist concept of advertisement might not be the right vehicle to convey a message about injustices commonly perpetrated by capitalism.

Whether you are a “liberal snowflake” or a “conservative fascist,” in the eyes of corporations, you are only a consumer. Unfortunately, these types of advertisements, which are designed to entice the consumer into believing corporations follow through on their social responsibility, can be deceptive.

Pepsi’s attempt to align themselves with a social movement seeking to change policy seems ill-conceived considering that their intentions are to sell a drink.

We do not need a “woke” company to show some half-hearted sympathy toward social issues. The minimizing and oversimplification of issues, regardless of political affiliation, in an attempt to sell a product is a poor marketing decision.

This is not advocating a boycott or some kind of protest of Pepsi for being mildly annoying, but rather a dissection of the means by which advertisements circumvent the betterment of their product; They attempt to entice consumers by associating their product with a popular topic or person. Pepsi is just the latest offender in this pattern of corporate advertisement that must be understood and avoided.

Opinion columnist Adib Shafipour is a biochemistry sophomore and can be reached at [email protected]

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