By now we’ve all had time to let #Pepsigate sink in. Yes, they really aired that ad. Though they pulled it within 24 hours, the damage was done. Of course, the question remains long after Kendall Jenner solves America’s deep racial divide by handing a white police officer a Pepsi; how the hell did it get past the first brainstorming session?
How did so many marketing professionals see this abomination and not a single one put their hand up and say, “Hey, actually, this is really gross, we shouldn’t be trivialising the black lives matter protests, and also, while I think of it, we are a corporation and therefore the antithesis of protest culture.”
Alas, no one did. And so on Wednesday, a two-minute commercial starring the face of the today’s struggling class, Kendall Jenner, went to air. Suffice to say it’s the most tone-deaf ad ever to exist, but let’s not overlook these other recent gems in the world of WTF-were-you-thinking-campaigns.
Nivea’s Re-Civilize Yourself Campaign
Back in 2011, Nivea ran an ad campaign featuring a freshly shaven black man holding a mask of his old afro-ed self next to text that read, “Look like you give a damn … Re-civilize yourself.” It took about 0.4 seconds for the public to brandish the ad racist, and Nivea issued an apology on their Facebook shortly after, saying “This ad was inappropriate and offensive. It was never our intention to offend anyone, and for this we are deeply sorry.”
Sony’s White PlayStation misfire
Back in 2006, Sony legitimately thought it was fine to print this ad on a huge Dutch billboard, effectively promoting modern-day slavery and reinforcing white supremacy views. Apparently, the line “White is coming” was referring to the new white PlayStation console, but my god that’s not how it looked.
Urban Outfitters’ Vintage Kent State Jumper
Ah, Urban Outfiitters. You can always count on the American fashion outlet to put their politically incorrect foot in it. They’ve made some pretty questionable merchandise decisions in their time, but their faux-blood stained Kent State Jumper has to take the cake. Remember when those four unarmed students were killed in 1970 at Kent State University? So vintage.
Demeter’s Boston Bombing Fragrance
New York based perfume brand Demeter decided to bottle a scent to raise money for Boston’s first responders fund after the Boston Marathon terrorist attack. But what was at first a seemingly honourable gesture went downhill, fast. The geniuses behind the scent decided to use the fragrance of smoke and burning rubber to pay homage to Boston’s police, fire fighters and EMTs. Can’t even make this shit up.
Keep A Child Alive’s ‘We Are African’ Campaign
So, not sure if you read GOOP’s newsletter this week, but guess what? Gwyneth Paltrow is totally African. Just look at this convincing image used in Alicia Key’s ‘Keep A Child Alive’ charity’s campaign. Supposedly the concept was to get a host of celebrities from different nationalities together, throw some culturally unspecific face paint on them and make the point that they are all one big happy African family because humanity originated in Africa. Get it?