Sorry to break it to you folks, but capitalism is evil. It’s sneaky, it’s exploitative, it’s gross. It plays on your weaknesses, and attempts to manipulate your emotions in order to sell you products that you don’t need. The new Pepsi ad is capitalism incarnate.
In case you missed it–which seems highly unlikely given the media frenzy surrounding the spot over this past week– Pepsi released an ad campaign featuring Kendall Jenner, which co-opted the imagery and actions associated with current activist movements (specifically Black Lives Matter) and attempted to use it to sell soda.
Not only that, but they did so while centering an extremely privileged, rich, white girl and trivializing the struggles of pretty much every oppressed group you can think of.
There were almost too many moments of pure, jaw-dropping horror to recapitulate: Let’s just leave it by describing the pivotal moment of the advertisement–wherein Jenner hands a can of Pepsi to a police officer and apparently, in doing so, effectively heals the contentious relations between law enforcement and protesters. And she, like, achieves world peace or something.
Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that they marketed it by calling the video a “short film” and it features the music of Skip Marley: Bob Marley’s grandson.
The ad was an embarrassment, and after media backlash, Pepsi pulled it and issued a statement expressing their regrets. “Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding,” they said. “Clearly, we missed the mark and apologize.”
But despite the nauseating nature of the ad, are we really surprised? Perhaps Pepsi was the most egregious offender, but corporations have been using political social issues as fodder to bolster their public image and sales for, well, forever.
Remember the Super Bowl commercials this year, that weighed in on immigration? Or Dove’s body-positivity approach to selling beauty products? The Pepsi ad was baffling, offensive, ill-thought-out, and brazen. It makes me want to puke, but I can’t say that it’s completely out of left field. Capitalism is a slippery bastard, and an unscrupulous one at that.