Tag Archives: advertisement

Pepsi: What Were You Thinking?!

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you will have heard about the catastrophic backlash Pepsi has received for their new TV and digital campaign featuring TV star and model Kendall Jenner. Created by its in-house creative team, Creators League Studio, we see Jenner on a modelling shoot who joins a protest mid-shoot. What is the protest for? I have no idea. No one knows.

Creatively, the advert is crap anyway. However, in terms of a brand ambassador, Kendall is actually the perfect candidate to reflect Pepsi’s pop culture background, which has previously featured other famous faces like Michael Jackson, Britney Spears and Beyonce. They could have worked with her social media influence and her fashion background to create a successful and fun campaign, but instead created a monster that has deeply offended and shocked so many people all over the world.
So how on earth did Pepsi get it so wrong? After a lot of thought since the ad was first released, here are my theories as to how this cultural tragedy unfurled:

  1. Diversity in the workplace: clearly no one of colour had any input in the narrative of this ad. Creators League Studio evidently do not have enough people of the backgrounds that they wish to represent in this ad.
  2. Work and fear culture: how the f*ck did this get approved?! How did no one at the Studio say “wait a minute, this concept seems really contrived”? Is there a culture there that makes people feel unable to stand up for what is right and wrong? I could never sit back and be part of something that I know is fundamentally wrong for humanity.
  3. Experience: without doubt, no one working on the commercial has ever been involved in a protest, experienced inequality, racial profiling, seclusion or segregation. Despite this, even if you have never experienced these things, surely you must know about it? The internet exists. History exists. There is no excuse.

The most disturbing and spoken about part of this advert is the scene were Jenner hands a Pepsi to a police officer. Firstly, this insinuates that protest can be solved by soda, which is highly insulting (the internet has gone meme-crazy on this subject). Secondly, and most importantly, this contrived scene is clearly mirroring that of the real life hero Ieshia Evans who faced police in Baton Rouge:

2016: A Picture and its Story

Ieshia Evans was detained by law enforcement when she protested after the shooting (and death) of African American Alton Sterling near the headquarters of the Baton Rouge Police Department. Both prior to that incident and after that iconic photo was taken there have been countless protests in cities like Baltimore, Maryland, and Ferguson, Missouri that occurred due to the police killing of black men. It has become an epidemic that is impossible to avoid on the news or on social media. There is no way Pepsi haven’t seen this image or heard of the protests.
Aside from the shocking claim that a can of Pepsi will create world peace, the contrast of ‘peace givers’ (Iesha and Kendall) is beyond insulting. Kendall is a white, cis, privileged, able-bodied, rich celebrity – if Pepsi wanted to create a peace-making, hero narrative they should’ve chosen an activist or a real-life hero.

DeRay McKesson, a leading activist in the Black Lives Matter movement said:

If I had carried Pepsi, I guess I never would have gotten arrested. Who knew? Pepsi, this ad is trash.

I couldn’t have said it better myself. In a world where violence and discrimination against African Americans has by no means decreased over the last century (if anything, it is getting worse), this has to be the most offensive, tone-deaf and contrived advert created during my lifetime.
What’s equally as perverse as using a real-life protest is the bizarre use of every token minority. The ad desperately tries to feature every single age, race, religion, gender, sexuality – whilst I praise diversity and inclusion in advertising, the clear attempt to show “co-existing” makes the Muslim woman and the “token-black-dude” stand out even more. It’s like they all sat at the casting couch and tried to tick off every single stereotypical type of person they could saying “yeah, she’s ethnic enough”.

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Pepsi’s exploitative brand social activism concept has been spoken about so much that according to data from Amobee Brand Intelligence, digital content engagement around Pepsi has increased to 366% in just a day, including mentions of Black Lives Matter, the use of the phrase “tone-deaf” and tagging the ad as the “worst ever.”
An incredible amount of people have spoken out against how Pepsi have exploited the enduring suffering of marginalised people, so I have no idea how Pepsi will ever come back from this. Yesterday, they removed the ad and released this apology on their website:

PURCHASE, N.Y., April 5, 2017 “Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding. Clearly we missed the mark, and we apologize. We did not intend to make light of any serious issue. We are removing the content and halting any further rollout. We also apologize for putting Kendall Jenner in this position.”

I’m glad they have apologised, and that the ad has been removed, but I really hope this has been a huge wakeup call for advertising and marketing. I hope Pepsi get rid of their “creatives” and use ad agencies for the future. But, will anyone want to be associated with them? I guess if the price is right…
Pepsi claim that they did not intend to refer to any particular significant issues, but the notion of a protest itself is to make a stand against a social issue. So, what social were they trying to represent? All I see is cringey peace signs and random words. Trivialising protest in an age where people are desperate to see change is an insult beyond repair, in my eyes. I’ve written about jumping on the bang-wagon when it comes to social issues (such as using LGBT characters in ad narratives), and I find myself shaking my head in shame when the scenes cut to young, attractive people blatantly drinking Pepsi (got to get in that product placement) and laughing. This itself shows how the creatives involved have clearly never been involved in anything mildly political, because no one stands around posing, giggling and pouting at a protest. We even see a fist bump. A f*cking fist bump.

Allen Adamson, founder of Brand Simple Consulting said:

It’s trivializing the seriousness of the issue, that merely a can of Pepsi could solve all of the problems on the streets of our country. To some extent, it’s polarizing to the Black Lives Matter movement because it makes it seem like much ado about nothing, if you just passed some out at your demonstrations this wouldn’t happen.

Following this, something that also concerns me is the actors in the advert. Whilst it’s evident that the creatives themselves have no sense of privilege and suffering, why did the multi-cultural cast agree to take part in this ad? Did they not know the entire concept prior to filming? Were they desperate for their next big break? Did the mention of Kendall Jenner appear too appealing to turn down? It’s the same confused, cringe-worthy feeling I had when I saw African Americans defending Trump during the election. How can anyone from a marginalised group associate themselves with this?!

I could spend all day writing about what is wrong with this advert. There is nothing right about it, and if you can’t see how much of a disaster it is, you need to educate yourself and understand your own privilege. We will never move away from segregation, racism and violence if we don’t collectively stand up for what is right. This is beyond poor creative work – it’s a enormous, humiliating and derogatory kick in the teeth.

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Creme Egg: Hunting Season

Creme Egg is back in season with a funny ad by Elvis Communications – a concept miles better than last year’s weird ‘have a fling with a Creme Egg’ campaign, by the same agency.
Creme Egg super fan ‘Gregg’ (I wish he was a real super fan – that would’ve been great) announces the three-month Creme Egg Hunting Season, ending in Easter Sunday.

I look forward to the rest of the ads for this campaign.

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Eugen Merher: Break Free (Adidas)

Eugen Merher is a student director at the Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg in Germany, and has created an ad for Adidas that has left me feeling both emotionally vulnerable and inspired at the same time.

“Break Free” tells the story of 79-year old Karl, a former marathon runner locked up in a lifeless nursing home. One evening he discovers his old running shoes by Adidas and decides to take a run in his old marathon outfit. He wants to leave the boredom behind and tries to escape the nursing home, against the will of the nurses. His actions ignite a spark of life in the residents of the home and they support him on his way to freedom.

I even tried to find the beautiful soundtrack (composed by Alex Wolf David), but alas he is only 24 and also a student with Eugen, so not avaialble on Spotify.

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Apple: Frankie’s Holiday

Ok this isn’t the last Christmas advert post. “Open your heart to everyone” – another politically fuelled message incorporated into a seasonal holiday ad. Featuring Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein’s monster, the narrative goes beyond the typical story of Christmas with the loved ones, focusing on those who may not have a lot and feel as if they do not belong.
Apple describes the advert as:

An unexpected holiday visitor finally receives the warm welcome he’s always yearned for.

The ad was directed by Lance Acord (Park Pictures). Whilst the spot is quite strange, magical yet heartwarming, it mainly emphasises a sense of unity and inclusiveness in a current political climate filled with fear and division (whilst of course featuring the latest iPhone!)

P.S. don’t cry

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Amazon Prime: Priest and Imam

Everyone is talking about it. Created by Amazon’s in-house team, this Amazon Prime ad has put smiles on an increasingly divided worlds’ faces.
Is it glamorising a very important and serious world issue of racism, xenophobia and islamophobia for a shopping service? Perhaps… or is it just a fantastically simple but lovely ad concept? Hey, it even made me, an atheist smile!

The ad will air in the U.S., the U.K. and Germany.

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Aldi Christmas Advert: Kevin the Carrot

Ok I promise this is the last Christmas ad post.

Another unexpectedly good idea from Aldi for Christmas. Never thought I’d find a carrot cute, but there’s a first time for everything.
Wonderfully narrated by Jim Broadbent, this adorable tale has made perfect timing – Aldi has been in the headlines this month for recently releasing a statement that the store will soon introduce an affordable range of organic produce at affordable prices.

For part of the Christmas campaign, Aldi has also released a limited-edition Kevin The Carrot soft toy (John Lewis vibes happening here) that will be sold for £2.99, with the profits going towards its charity of the year, Barnardo’s.

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Temptations Christmas Ad

Unexpected Christmas ad for Temptations by adam&eveDDB featuring 22 cats and a heavy metal Christmas remix. You don’t have to have a cat to relate to the known fact that cats are fluffy destroyers. Me likey!

Agency: adam&eveDDB
Creatives: Alex Lucas, Jon Farley
Production Company: Rogue Films
Director: Sam Brown
Edit: Final Cut

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Heathrow: Coming Home for Christmas

Heathrow Airport is celebrating its 70th birthday with a Christmas ad created by Barnaby Packham and Daniel Bolton at Havas. The message that “coming home for Christmas is the best gift of all” works perfectly with the adorable (and very nostalgic) characters. I definitely spent a lot of my childhood imagining and hoping teddybears lived human lives!

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XXL Airport Love

Had to post an Olympics equality advert!

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Subaru’s Dogs Adverts

There are two more, but I though these were the funniest. Very funny, very sweet!

“Subaru is happily embracing that last stereotype with its new “Meet the Barkleys” campaign. The four 30-second spots (and website) follow the Subaru-loving Barkley clan as they deal with everyday situations from teenage dating dramas to family road trips to a dad getting chastised for paying a little too much attention to an attractive female. You know, stuff that everyone can relate to.”

CREDITS
Client: Subaru of North America
Agency: Carmichael Lynch
Chief Creative Officer: Dave Damman
Exec Creative Director: Randy Hughes
Writer: Nick Nelson
Senior Art Director: Matt Pruett
Director of Integrated Production: Joe Grundhoefer
Exec Content Producer: Freddie Richards
Senior Interactive Producer: Laura Coyle
Director of Business Affairs: Vicki Oachs
Account Service Team: David Eiben, Catherine Finn
Senior Project Manager: Jane Williams-Petersen
Production Company: SKUNK
Director: Brian Lee Hughes
Managing Partner/EP: Matt Factor
Exec Producer: Shelly Townsend
Head of Production: Jeanne Stawiarski
Producer: Geoff McLean
Director of Photography: Jason McCormick
Edit House: Drive Thru
Editor: Mick Uzendoski
Exec Producer: Beth Wilson
VFX House/Online Artist: Drive Thru, Derek Johnson
Telecine: CO3, Sean Coleman
Audio Mix/Sound Design: BWN
Music Company: Echo Boys

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