The Revolution Will Be Capitalized
You ever wonder what corporations like Pepsi thought of all the protests and angsty rebellion that’s been going on in America lately? No? Too bad. In their new commercial, Pepsi demonstrates their thorough knowledge of the modern-day, diversified, happy youth movement, all with the help of Kendall Jenner, and the resulting “short film” is just as nauseating and confusing as you’d think.
An official spokesperson from Pepsi spoke to Teen Vogue about their intention for the ad: “The creative showcases a moment of unity, and a point where multiple storylines converge in the final advert. It depicts various groups of people embracing a spontaneous moment, and showcasing Pepsi’s brand rallying cry to 'Live For Now,' in an exploration of what that truly means to live life unbounded, unfiltered and uninhibited.”
Basically, the commercial shows an extraordinarily diverse group of teenagers happily marching together in protest, holding up ambiguous signs that either have hearts, Chinese characters, or generic phrases that say “Join the conversation.”
Meanwhile, a sexily pissed off Asian man is playing the cello, while an equally rebellious girl wearing a hijab is crumbling up photographs (or something). Kendall Jenner is also casually being photographed in a blonde wig and dark make-up in a shoot conveniently right in front of the herds of people. They all get inspired by their riotous cans of Pepsi, and sexy Asian man proceeds to convince Kendall Jenner to take off her lipstick and quickly change into protest-chic in order to join them in the generic protest for... love. Or Chinese characters. Or something.
The defining moment, when Jenner hands her Pepsi to an officer who proceeds to open the can and drink the product, brings cheers from the audience, and it seems that all America’s injustices have been put to rest by the beautiful union of Kendall Jenner and a police man. All of which was made possible by that radical drink that totally gets your angst, Pepsi.
What the ad actually did seem to accomplish was pissing off the Internet. An article in Jezebel goes through every frame of the video, satirizing the plot, while another one in the New York Post lists angry and hilarious tweets from different comedians.
In an era when television is all Netflix-ed, HBO-ed, recorded and fast-forwarded, it’s surprising to see that commercials like this still pick up so much steam. While five to ten years ago, Pepsi would have probably aired this on live television, this week they instead released it on their YouTube channel. It’s probably harder to get regular commercials circulated and viewed very much anymore, which is why companies like Pepsi resort to making these long, statement-filled videos to catch everyone’s attention. Sometimes they are hilariously bad, but there have been some equally powerful ones lately.
REI’s Force of Nature commercial does an amazing job of defying stereotypes about what is acceptable, encouraged and expected of women in today’s society, showing phrases like “Should be… careful, quiet, nice,” and then countering those adjectives with incredible pictures and videos of all kinds of females being really badass.
This one from last year was created by Organic Balance, and it works to show how women’s mornings really look like—not full of calming yoga routines done in sexy lingerie, but an honest, humane disaster. Full of statistics that prove how busy professional women actually are every morning (57% of us are awake before the sun is up!), the ad is a testimony to hardworking females.
So, Internet, don’t let Pepsi and Kendall Jenner throw you into despair. As heartening as it is to see an entire universe of people online outraged at the plain ridiculousness and white-savior-ness of their new commercial, there’s plenty more out there for us to admire.