By now, you must have seen the Pepsi advertisement featuring Kendall Jenner. It’s a simple plot – a high fashion model is at work, witnesses a protest pass by, is moved by the vibe, and joins the party. There are all kinds of people in the march – all colours, ethnic backgrounds and walks of life. It’s the kind of diversity that America once stood for.
Jenner gets outs of her silver bodycon, buttons up her denim and marches along. She is all smiles, and everyone seems to be in their element. Then, they are faced with law enforcing agents, but keeping the spirit alive, she marches up to one of the officers, hands him a can of Pepsi, and he loosens up. And then, internet flips at the audacity of such a concept!
Frankly, I don’t see a problem with it. Any of it.
Opposing such adverts, indirectly, demands death of creativity. It was a beautiful concept, where diversity was a pleasure to witness. Young adults were marching for a cause that they believed in, in an all-inclusive, light-hearted and entertaining way. There was music and dance, smiles and laughter.
Yet, if someone insists on pointing at the underlying white supremacy, accusing the brand of trivialising ‘black lives matter’ cause, they are truly missing the point. An American company choses a white model to save the day (with a Pepsi can of course); do we really need to zoom in and derive all sorts of political agendas (or lack of it) from it? It is an advertisement, boys and girls. Good ol’ marketing, which is fighting for survival in the face of cynicism and pressure to be politically correct. Must we mar every imagination with a sting of reality?
I can’t help picturing this opposition as a type of epidemic, where many are inflicted with a microscopic bacteria that forces them to ‘judge it all’. It holds masses back from embracing positive, and hurls them towards negativity, superfluous nationalism and hatred.
I am not insensitive to all the misery in the world. I know that our world is bleeding, and it needs to be rescued. But since when is Pepsi our superman? They have been manufacturing soda since 1893, and that’s what they have committed to – not to your health, not to your political ideals, not to your social norms and definitely not to saving the world. To expect a brand to suddenly shoulder the burden of correcting all that is wrong and nasty across the universe is not only unfair, it is asking for too much.
After the release of this ‘politically incorrect’ advertisement, there was an outburst of memes, mocking the power of Pepsi to save the day. From poverty to blasts and rape, ill-humoured artists drew a can of soda, challenging it to ‘make it right’. The imagery was not only insensitive, it was also far from funny. Pepsi isn’t out to solve all the problems plaguing our societies. And if you expected it to, then there is but one problem – your connection with reality.
Look – it’s an advertisement for soda. Let’s leave it at that. Politicizing every single action, and viewing it from angst tinted lens, will only give you wrinkles. Then, you will turn to L’Oreal, who might cast Malala in one of their advertisements, at which you will once again lose your s**t, and end up with deeper wrinkles. Take it easy, enjoy what is meant for entertainment only, and drop that judgemental robe.
And now, here’s the advertisement that broke the internet, and forced me to write 600 words at midnight.
On another note, I wish Pepsi hadn’t pulled it off the web, and had stood firm in the face of bullies. It could have done a fair bit of preaching on tolerance and positivity here, but they chose to step back instead. Sad.