Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Generic Pop Protest with Diversity (and Pepsi)

Pepsi recently had a marketing disaster with a commercial that managed to offend liberals and send conservatives into gales of laughter, and unite the entire political spectrum in what Americans truly share today, namely, sarcastic dismissal:



It was so bad, Pepsi had to pull the ad after a very short run and issue an apology.

I don't have all that much to say about it, but I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that a lot of people seem to have a cargo cult view of how protest works. You could not ask for a better illustration of that fact than this advertisement. What is being protested? Nothing at all. All of the signs are generic (Peace, Join the Conversation); we get a lot of art whose actual relation to the protest we do not know; we go through the diversity checklist; and it's impossible to tell what's actually going on. It's the surface appearance of a protest -- the external motions -- and nothing else. It's as if aliens from another planet had seen a protest on TV and tried to copy what they saw.

And, of course, to make it truly sarcasm-worthy, the cargo cult protest here is put into the service of making PepsiCo money. Buy Pepsi to Support [Insert Cause Here].

But, to be fair, that so many people saw the absurdity of it is also a good sign; although, as other campaigns of a similar kind pass unremarked, it probably helped that this advertisement was so extraordinarily vapid in how it portrayed protests.

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