The ad was not only tone hard of hearing in culturally appropriating the Dark Lives Matter struggle, but it was also an ill-conceived ambitious project overreaching to make use of a multicultural new market- Millennials.
Pepsi ads aim to emphasize its youthful brand by championing it as “the choice of a new generation. ” Not a bad marketing tool to turn its second-class status to Coca-Cola, its archrival, into an advantage.
However , Pepsi’s recent commercial starring Kendall Jenner (of the Kardashian clan) was a fiasco. And, the backlash was quick and furious, because it preyed upon racial and cultural stereotypes : Asian as a classical musician; Muslim woman wearing a hijab; black males as reggae plus hip-hop artists; white riot equipment police holding fort against the multi-ethnic crowd. And, of course , the reenactment of the white hero/ rescuer trope. Jenner thwarts a possible riot simply offering a cop a Pepsi. Nevertheless , before the denouement Jenner removes her golden-haired wig to give to a black woman because natural hair – any Eurocentric fashion- conscious female knows- will not do.
Front and center of the commercial’s narrative arch is the misappropriation from the iconic and viral photo of Ieshia Evans . Evans is the 28-year-old African American mom who in 2016 during a Black Lives Matter protest in Baton Rouge stunned the nation as well as the world when she silently walked towards the front line of heavily-armed police plus offered her hands to be imprisoned.
The ad was not only tone deaf in culturally appropriating the Black Lives Matter struggle, but it seemed to be an ill-conceived ambitious project overreaching to tap into a multicultural new market- Millennials.
Of all previous generations, however , Millennials are the most health-conscious customers, and non-alcoholic carbonated drinks -like each Coke and Pepsi – nicely, they are just not that into them. Connexity , a consumer analytics provider revealed as recent as December 2016 that Millennials, between the age range of 18-24, consume mostly organic drinks.
However , both cola conglomerates gear their own ad commercials mainly to the kids of their most loyal fan base – African Americans and Latino Americans.
Pepsi and Coke have a lengthy history with its African American community. Pepsi, however , has nearly a century-old loyal fan base because Coke- once referred to as the “ John Crow drink ” -would not sell to African American markets. Pepsi- derisively referred to as the “ N-word drink ” -exploited the opportunity, narrowing its competition along with Coke by opening markets within the Southern black belt and the Northern inner cities and hiring an all-black sales team. Pepsi ads flooded stores supported by us and in African American publications with black models and celebrities. And Pepsi is still doing that will. As recent as 2013, Beyoncé and Christiana Aguilar were hired to promote domestic product sales in black and Latino markets, respectively.
Despite public outcry, many multicultural marketers at soft-drink industries congratulated Pepsi with their recent ad to get recognizing the expanding face from the consumer base and for aiming to employ “guerrilla advertising” and “rebel marketing” at disaffected Millennials, especially in city cities.
With pushback from healthcare professionals, activists and environmentalists about advertising these drinks, like Pepsi, to economically distress area where fast-food chains also disproportionately target African American and Latino populations, especially our children, the plea has fallen on deaf ears.
“But let’s face it. Hispanics and African Americans are much less interested in diet products. Sweet drinks — often the sweeter the greater — do well with them, ” Todd Putman, a white professional modern marketer, quoted in the Advertising Age group article “ Soft-Drink Business Is Smart to Target Hispanics and Blacks . ” There are a lot of social barriers to getting both these groups to understand the importance of being lean. ”
There are a lot of cultural and socioeconomic barriers and the inundation of these ads are one of them. For example, with both former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg of NYC and former First Lady Michelle Obama campaigns against unhealthy sugary drinks to combat childhood obesity and Type two diabetes, Coke and Pepsi, notwithstanding, are the beverages of choice among each groups, exceeding water. During black and Latino prime time Television shows, especially on networks like Black Entertainment Television (BET) and the American Spanish-language Telemundo, Cola and Pepsi advertisements run disproportionally higher than on general prime TV show- 13 percent of their ads upon those networks compared to 2 % on the others.
With African Americans plus Latinos markets viewed as providing softdrink companies a “ lifetime of opportunity ” these companies are disincentivized to create healthier beverages. And they don’t see it because exploitation , but instead as niche marketing.
“Do they owe these groups an apology? I don’t believe so…. On many levels, the soft-drink industry is being demonized as if it were the new big cigarette, ” Putman continued.
Pepsi is lauded as a friend to African American and Latinos communities. Being a corporate philanthropist, Pepsi gives nicely to African American and Latinos causes and organizations. In 2015, Pepsi celebrated its 50th Anniversary Giving Back program. One of its big grant recipients was Big Brothers Big Cousin of Metropolitan Chicago, an at-risk youth program that aims to improve their own changes at the American Dream.
But just how could their chances be increased drinking their product?
Pepsi has a high concentration of sugar and caffeine. Both are addictive ingredients keeping our children coming back for further. Their ads are, too.