Right now, Pepsi is drawing plenty of justifiable fury for a blood-curdlingly tone-deaf new commercial that stars Kendall Jenner. In the clip, Jenner leaves a modeling gig to join a passing protest. We never learn what people are protesting, and it doesn’t seem to matter. They all look so happy! And when the protesters run into a wall of grim-faced cops, Jenner hands one of them a Pepsi and instantly brokers peace between protesters and police. It fucking sucks. Here, look:
The Pepsi ad shows you most companies will exploit your humanity under the guise of being "diverse." This is trash.pic.twitter.com/7W9U2ai6xo
— Erick Fernandez (@ErickFernandez) April 4, 2017
And as it turns out, we have another reason to hate this thing: The ad’s producers may have been biting the Chemical Brothers. As FACT points out, the ad has more than a few things in common with the WIZ-directed video for “Out Of Control,” the Chemical Brothers’ 1999 collaboration with New Order’s Bernard Sumner. In that video, Rosario Dawson plays a revolutionary figure in a standoff against police. In the final subversive twist, the whole thing turns out to be a commercial for something called Viva Cola. The similarities are hard to ignore. Here’s the “Out Of Control” video:
The difference, of course, is that the “Out Of Control” video is a cutting satire of dystopian advertising culture, while the Pepsi ad is a Pepsi ad. So it’s almost like the “Out Of Control” video found a way to parody the Pepsi ad 18 years before the ad had a chance to exist.
Rosario Dawson noticed:
UPDATE: Pepsi has pulled the ad and issued the following statement:
Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding. Clearly 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.
UPDATE 2: And Chemical Brothers video director W.I.Z. released his own statement (via FADER):
The original inspiration for my Chemical Brothers film came from The Clash lyric: ‘Huh, you think it’s funny turning rebellion into money,’ crystallizing a deep felt anger that when it comes to the profit margin, absolutely nothing is sacred, not even heartfelt expressions for social justice. We made this film in 1999, however today the inevitable has materialized: it’s become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
If you were ever in doubt about the carnivorous nature of advertising, then this Pepsi ‘spot’ says it all. It so insults everyone’s intelligence that it’s disturbing, what is this culture that we choose to live in that engenders such naked cynicism, is advertising the pornography of capitalism? Vanillarizing our expressions of outrage, cashing in on the very frustrations that this system creates. Right now big business is laughing, clutching our hard earned dollar and hard earned dignity all the way to the bank. Our love, our sweat, our beauty is being sold back to us, two for the price of one.
Yet can this travesty be a wake up call? To us all and to those in front of the camera as well as behind. No longer will we be prostitutes, no longer will we be muppets.
Power to the people.