Marketers have told themselves that social media gives them a great opportunity to engage consumers in conversations.
Yes, it does. But sometimes, you should keep your damn mouth shut.
Witness the recent on-line video boner and spot by Pepsi.
The work was created and produced in-house (thank God, I’d hate to blame an ad agency for this). The work features model Kendall Jenner and a cast of hundreds. Oh, the drama!
It opens with an Asian cellist atop a skyscraper working out some jams.
Next, we see a Muslim Woman Wearing Hijab photographer struggling with her artistry — she’s not satisfied, she crumples contact sheets and throws them away like flu season Kleenex.
Then we see sexy model Kendall Jenner in a glam get-up and make up. She’s being styled and photographed for a fashion shoot.
Kendall makes loves to the lens, but we can tell she’s just not that into it.
All this artistic conflict is playing out and intercut with a major march happening in the streets. A multi-ethnic crowd is protesting (there is even diversity in headwear!). The crowd is attractive and carries art directed signs!
Now, the cellist is back in his apartment. He opens an ice cold Pepsi and sips the elixir. This magical moment ignites something in him!
The photographer notices the marchers going by and grabs her camera, inspired by an artistic spark!
The cellist is marching, too, but wait–– now he’s playing on the street with other musicians.
Holy crap… now some hip dudes are breaking it down! There is dancing in the streets.
Kendall takes the march in with her big puppy dog browns. She senses she’s missing out on something big! Hey, there’s the Asian cellist walking by and he gives Kendall a knowing nod as if to say, “Come join the hijinks of our orderly ethnically-diverse social disorder.”
Lickety-split, Kendall rips off her hair (fortunately, it was a wig). She wipes off her lipstick (it was really red). Next thing, she’s out of the glittery silver dress and has slipped into some skin tight jeans, a tight white top, and designer denim jacket.
Whoa–– who knew she could kick it old school?!
AND NOW, now there is a tub of Pepsi products on ice (DUH– everyone knows protesters like to hydrate with carbonated beverages while they support their various causes). Kendall grabs a can of Pepsi and she carries it through the crowd.
The people are loving this. She’s making it real!
Kendall walks to the front of the line where some boys in blue (it’s the fuzz, man) are lined up to keep those protesters in order.
The hip music track comes to a crescendo and breaks.
The shutterbug raises her camera.
Kendall hands her Pepsi can to a cop.
The photographer snaps the shot.
(Fortunately, no one shouts, “Shots fired”.)
The cops drinks.
The music starts again. Kendall and crowd raise their fists in air and cheer.
There is joy in the streets as we see the cop nod approvingly to his fellow officers. His nod seems to say, “This Pepsi quenches the thirst I have for Millennial protests of whatever’s getting under their diverse skin tones.”
Cut to the crowd marching on as bold titles proudly proclaims:
LIVE FOR NOW.”
From the moment this sucker was released, it caused a storm of ridicule and protest. People saw it for what it was–– a whitewash of the emotions behind protests.
A blatant attempt for a commercial product to insert itself into genuine outrage.
There is a reason people protest, Pepsi. Emotions are high. Emotions are real. And you are not a part of that conversation.
If you can’t be empathetic, compassionate and understanding, sit down and shut up.
NOTE: Pepsi withdrew the awful ad shortly after the publication of this. Obviously, Empathetic Adman has incredible power.