Bad to Worse

J. DakarCulture2 Comments

Bad to Worse: Pepsi and Nivea Cause Cultural Controversies

Two global brands have caused an online uproar over the last few days. Pepsi and Nivea are facing deserved criticism for their latest advertisements.

On Tuesday, Pepsi released a two-and-a-half minute commercial as part of its “Life for Now” campaign featuring model Kendall Jenner. Check it out below, in case you haven’t seen it.

The commercial was produced by Pepsi’s in-house content agency, Creators League Studio. According to a company press release, it “takes a more progressive approach to truly reflect today’s generation and what living for now looks like.” That sounds like something the team from Murphy & Kennedy would say.

Following backlash from many online, Pepsi issued the following statement on Wednesday:

“Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding. Clearly [sic] 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 not sure which is worse: the commercial or the “apology.”

Pepsi may have thought that its “living in the now” message would resonate. But did the company really think that the demonstration, which looks more like a music festival, depicted in the commercial wouldn’t rile people?

It’s highly irresponsible and insensitive to individuals who have suffered police brutality and those who protest against it. It implies that if you share a Pepsi at your protest, the police won’t bother you:

To add insult to injury, though, Pepsi chose to “apologize for putting Kendall Jenner in this position.” What position might that be, Pepsi? She’s a wealthy young white woman with the ability to ease tension between police and protestors with a single can of Pepsi. Must be nice.

Your apology now needs an apology, Pepsi.

Speaking of which, Nivea has apologized for and pulled a deodorant ad targeted at Facebook followers in the Middle East that featured the phrase “white is purity.”

Nivea's Facebook page featured an advertisement proclaiming 'white is purity.'

Nivea’s Facebook page featured an advertisement proclaiming “white is purity.”

Beiersdorf Global AG, the German-based company that owns Nivea, said in a statement, “We are deeply sorry to anyone who may take offense to this specific post. Diversity and equal opportunity are crucial values of Nivea.”

That’s what they said in 2011 when the personal care brand released an ad featuring a black man with the tagline “re-civilize yourself.” At least they admitted the 2011 ad was “inappropriate and offensive.”

In 2017, why is it that brands remain culturally-insensitive? No one in the room thought these ads for Pepsi and Nivea were problematic as they were being crafted? Someone had to sign off on them, which means they didn’t see any issue with these ads.

That poses an even greater problem.

Post Title Soundtrack: 'Bad to Worse' by El (Lomi)

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