Yesterday, following the viral disdain towards Pepsi’s resistance-co-opting, Kendall Jenner-starring advertisement (in which a group of protesters march and cheer her on as she shares a moment of unity through sipping Pepsi with a policeman), a few publications pointed out how similar the whole story of soda protest-appropriation was to a Chemical Brothers music video from 1999. Today, the director of that music video released a statement via the Fader, mirroring the general consensus about the transparentness of the Pepsi ad’s cringe-inducing sheen of corporate altruism-parasitism.
As Flavorwire’s own Lara Zarum pointed out yesterday, the capitalist faux-politicization of soda is nothing at all new: Pepsi’s played around with capturing the cultural/political “moment” for the purposes of soda sales many times in the past. But beyond the way this paralleled (but bested in its tone-deafness) past advertising antics, it also echoed the aforementioned electronic band’s Rosario Dawson-starring “Out of Control” video, in which a riot is revealed to have actually been a part of a soda commercial, for a fake brand called “Viva” cola.
After that much is suggested, we see that within the narrative of the music video, that advertisement has itself spawned another protest. So, as Pitchfork noted, not only was the Pepsi commercial like this video, but the fictional response to the fictional protest was also uncannily similar to that of the actual Pepsi story. Dawson herself Tweeted the video (which, by the way, is really good):
The video was directed by W.I.Z., or Andrew Whiston, who told the Fader that the concept of the video originally came from a Clash lyric — “Huh, you think it’s funny/ Turning rebellion into money” — which he says spoke to “a deep felt anger that when it comes to the profit margin, absolutely nothing is sacred, not even heartfelt expressions for social justice.” He continued:
If you were ever in doubt about the carnivorous nature of advertising, then this Pepsi ‘spot’ says it all. It so insults everyone’s intelligence that it’s disturbing, what is this culture that we choose to live in that engenders such naked cynicism, is advertising the pornography of capitalism? Vanillarizing our expressions of outrage, cashing in on the very frustrations that this system creates.
Meanwhile, yesterday, Pepsi took down and apologized for the ad. The company said, in a statement:
Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding. Clearly, we missed the mark and apologize. We did not intend to make light of any serious issue. We are pulling the content and halting any further rollout.
Journalist Charles M. Blow — along with many others — had pointed out that Jenner’s ridiculous soda-bestowing moment evoked the famous and potent image of a Black Lives Matter protester standing firmly as three riot police reach for her:
The best responses to the ad came in the form of scathing tweets from black activists who’re familiar with protests beyond the kind that result in sharing a soda. DeRay McKesson wrote, “If I had carried Pepsi I guess I never would’ve gotten arrested. Who knew?”
Bernice King posted: